Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Just in from Washington

Ag Groups Speak Up on Conservation Title

Washington--In a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) this week, a group of national agriculture organizations spoke up about the conservation title in the farm bill. The letter was sent just prior to the committee’s hearing “Strengthening Conservation Through the 2012 Farm Bill,” which took place yesterday.

The American Farm Bureau Federation co-signed the letter along with nine other national agriculture organizations.

In the letter, the groups expressed support for the conservation title, which was developed as part of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction process. “That framework, as we understand it, contained provisions strongly supported by the farmers our organizations represent: simplification, flexibility and consolidation,” said the letter.

“The number and complexity of USDA conservation programs is daunting to many growers,” continued the letter. “Consolidating 23 programs into 13—reducing the number almost by half—is welcome news.” The group applauded Sens. Stabenow and Roberts for simplify the conservation programs by keeping the same tools but merging them into fewer programs.

The groups also said they supported the conservation title’s focus on working lands conservation. “These programs have grown to be the largest in the conservation portfolio, and for good reason,” said the letter. “Farmers value their ability to partner with USDA in protecting and conserving soil, water and other natural resources, particularly as a tool to help them prevent and/or comply with regulation. Agricultural conservation programs truly provide a win-win in this respect.”

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