2007 Farm Bill Reports and Forums
The Farm Bill is the single most important piece of legislation for Americans concerned about food, water, habitat, and land conservation. With the release of the League's research report on farm policy, The 2007 Farm Bill: Stewardship, Prosperity, and Fairness, we put forth a path to an agricultural future that serves all Americans. Our realistic vision for the Farm Bill focused on aligning careful corrections with renewed commitments. In short, we detailed the means for reforming destructive, wasteful policy in order to expand protective, beneficial results. Congress did not wholesale adopt our recommendations, but our voice was heard and some real progress was made. (See IWLA Analysis of the 2008 Farm Bill.) Amid the wins, losses, and draws that exist in every five-year reauthorization of a Farm Bill, the 2008 Farm Bill contains one direct victory for the League that best exemplifies our practical engagement in federal agriculture policy.
League members identified that Conservation Compliance -- a program consisting of basic conservation requirements that must be met for land to become or remain eligible for receiving federal farm program payments -- has not been performing well. If a farm has fields that are eroding excessively, or has drained wetlands to plant crops, compliance rules say that farm will be ineligible for part or all of its subsidies. Conservation Compliance is a means for ensuring that where public money is invested, the public’s interests are protected.
This is a logical covenant between taxpayers and farmers that, unfortunately, has increasingly been poorly administered. The Government Accountability Office verified the problem: 80 percent of erosion and wetlands violations are being waived upon appeal. This results in two negative consequences. First, the objective of protecting soil and wetlands is not being met. Second, federal dollars that could be better spent on conservation are instead going to unmerited farm program payment recipients.
In response, League members and staff drafted waiver oversight review language and set about changing federal farm law. And, after two years of unglamorous and overlooked effort, we succeeded in placing into law review requirements for waivers. No longer will wetland draining and soil erosion get a free pass from county boards made up of local farmers. Now, farm program and conservation experts can step in and put a stop to the prevailing consequence-free condition for natural resource destruction in agriculture.
In the words of the Farm Bill’s congressional authors, in direct acceptance of our proposal: “[We] believe this approach resolves a long-standing problem and provides for increased oversight of the violation process.” And those senators and representatives further adopted our insistence that compliance be prioritized by instructing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to, “increase whatever technical assistance, planning, monitoring, investigation, and enforcement activities may prove necessary to ensure that producers receiving farm program benefits continue to meet the applicable conservation compliance requirements.”
The 2007 Farm Bill:
Stewardship, Prosperity, and
With 52 percent of the nation's land used for agriculture, conservationists have an enormous stake in the federal Farm Bill. Read our 2007 Farm Bill Report, which outlined ways to strengthen the most recent Farm Bill for farmers, rural communities, and natural resources.
From February through May 2007, the League held six Farm Bill Forums to find common ground on Farm Bill priorities.
A report, Hidden Treasure: The Conservation Security Program and Wildlife, describes a project sponsored by the Izaak Walton League, National Wildlife Federation, and the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to better understand the USDA Conservation Security Program (CSP) and its benefits for fish and wildlife. It looks at what are we buying with program contracts and how much the program is benefiting wildlife habitat. It also examines wildlife results already achieved by the program and offers proposals for Congress and USDA that will achieve the full potential of CSP for fish and wildlife in future contracts.
Focus Group Message
As part of the League's Farm Bill Campaign, we sat down and talked about farming with people who weren't farmers. But like all of us, farming matters to them. In Illinois or Iowa, North Dakota or Minnesota, or anywhere in America, agriculture affects people. In our conversations with men and woman -- Democrat, Republican, and Independent -- we learned what people feel about the future of farming. Find our results here.
IWLA 2007 Farm Bill
In 2007, The Izaak Walton League of America has hosted Farm Bill Forums in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Missouri. These roundtable discussions on the 2007 Farm Bill and conservation program priorities provided an opportunity for representatives from agricultural, conservation and rural organizations to identify areas of shared priority to determine and emphasize common ground rather than debate differences.
Summaries on these forums are available below:
- Six State Summary (PDF)
- Minnesota (PDF)
- Iowa (PDF)
- Illinois (PDF)
- Wisconsin (PDF)
- South Dakota (PDF)
- Missouri (PDF)
Please contact Brad Redlin, Director of Agricultural Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651.649.1446 if you have any questions.