Farm Bill conservation programs are our nation’s largest source of funding to help farmers and ranchers be better stewards of our soil, woods, water, and wildlife. With the current Farm Bill scheduled to expire September 30, introduction of the Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill is an important step forward in the process.
Today (June 8), the Senate Agriculture Committee released the draft bill it will mark up next week. There’s good news for conservation in this bill, including:
- Maintains overall funding for conservation.
- Does NOT weaken Sodsaver, Sodbuster, or Swampbuster
- Increases Conservation Reserve Program to 25 million acres
- Keeps USDA working lands programs with some improvements
- Increases conservation easement funding to at least $400 million per year
- Adds soil health as a priority for most programs
With growing challenges to our rural wetlands, water quality and wildlife, we need to ensure that the next Farm Bill will do even more for our natural resources. Like any complex legislation, sorting out all the provisions will take some time. No bill is perfect, but the Senate Farm Bill appears to provide a solid foundation for a bi-partisan bill that will move rural America forward.
We look forward to continuing to work with the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the full Senate towards a Farm Bill that will restore clean water, regenerate America’s soil, benefit fish and wildlife and provide additional value for our tax dollars.