Press

House Farm Bill Passage A Lost Opportunity

06/21/2018

Izaak Walton League Statement on HR 2

The Izaak Walton League of America, which has been engaged on national agriculture policy since the 1930s, today expressed disappointment in the passage the House Farm Bill (HR 2) on a 213 to 211 vote.  The League issued the following statement:

The Farm Bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 21st wasted an opportunity to produce a bill with broad support that would have greatly enhanced U.S. water quality, healthy soils, and wildlife. On balance, the bill fell short in meeting the needs of America’s farmers, rural communities, natural resources, and taxpayers.

Rather than fully fund the Conservation Title, the bill cuts much-needed farm conservation programs by nearly $1 billion over 10 years. Conservation programs are a small portion of the Farm Bill budget, but they are our nation’s largest source of funding for conservation on private lands.

The bill has some good provisions, including increased funding for conservation easements that protect wetlands and native prairie. But the bill pays for this funding increase by eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program – the one Farm Bill program focused on delivering whole-farm, proactive conservation systems.

The bill increases the acreage cap for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) but funds it by eliminating CRP incentive payments that are crucial to farmers enrolling land in buffer strips, filter strips, and wetland conservation practices that are critical to restoring water quality. These changes make the program much less useful in addressing our nation’s water quality problems.   

The bill fails to address Izaak Walton League priorities such as incentives to innovative producers to build soil health, which would reduce taxpayer-funded crop insurance payouts by decreasing the risk of crop losses. The bill also includes provisions that have no place in the Farm Bill, including provisions to weaken clean water protections, the Endangered Species Act, and public input into National Forest management decisions.

The House Farm Bill falls short of what America needs.

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 Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America (www.iwla.org) protects America's outdoors through education, community-based conservation, and promoting outdoor recreation.