The U-S House is expected to take up the next farm bill this week. There are big changes, as funding for many programs is being scaled back or eliminated, so stretching every dollar has become the focus of an amendment supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and conservation groups. The Crop Insurance Accountability amendment ties conservation of soil and wetlands to the insurance subsidy, and all farm subsidies. Julie Sibbing with the National Wildlife Federation says it rewards stewards of the land at a time when many conservation programs are being cut.
|"So we’re even more concerned about the basic conservation provisions that farmers deliver as a requirement of receiving subsidies, because we have so little to go around in terms of protecting our soil, water and wildlife resources."|
The amendment [H.R. 2260] will be offered this week and, if it fails, the sponsors say they will push it as a separate bill. Farmers and ranchers who do not comply still can purchase the crop coverage, but they will be responsible for 100 percent of the premium.
While the fiscal component is important, Sibbing says soil and wetlands conservation also is a type of insurance on its own – especially for areas that are drought-stricken.
|:16 "Additionally, it's really important to take care of our soils. At places there are highly erodable soils and farmers are required to have conservation plans, these are the soils that have built up great amounts of organic matter and are much more resilient to droughts."|
The American Farm Bureau Federation had argued against linking subsidies to conservation last year, but president Bob Stallman says they changed their mind and view the plan as “rational.”