Letter: Farmers need additional opportunities to conserve
Driving across our wintertime prairie provides evidence that our land is suffering. Topsoil-laden snow, caused by excessive wind and water erosion, plagues our countryside. We humans survive on the topsoil, but we're seeing farming practices and ...
Driving across our wintertime prairie provides evidence that our land is suffering. Topsoil-laden snow, caused by excessive wind and water erosion, plagues our countryside. We humans survive on the topsoil, but we're seeing farming practices and policies that do little to protect our natural resources and land. The pollution of our wells, streams and lakes is growing!
In the last farm bill, U.S. Rep. David Minge, who represented this area of Minnesota, teamed up with Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin to push for the Conservation Security Program. CSP, which became law, was a program that provided incentives for farmers who performed good stewardship practices on farmed lands.
It's time to expand and strengthen CSP in the next farm bill and provide farmers more options to conserve. While set-aside conservation programs are also important, in a time of high crop prices, the pressure on farmers to stop them is huge. Farmers are planting more corn and beans, and acres are in demand. In part this is why CSP, which targets actual farmed lands, is so important. We need conservation incentives on farmed lands.
In the ongoing farm bill debate, the Senate has led on CSP by providing increased funding and greater simplification. In contrast, the House of Representative's farm bill, with Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, fails to recognize the importance of CSP and provides inadequate funding.
This even more stunning when you see the House's Conservation Title dominated by funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program at nearly $2 billion a year. EQIP provides cost-share grants for implementing conservation practices, and has been used by family farmers for good conservation efforts. But more recently EQIP has become a boondoggle for the huge factory farm setups, which can amazingly receive up to $450,000 of taxpayer dollars to build huge manure lagoons in the name of conservation!
What our rural communities really need is a common-sense, balanced conservation approach. The land, our water and our people need the Conservation Security Program at the Senate levels, better cost-share conservation efforts for family farmers and conservation set-aside options to farmers who want to use them.