Picture of Margaret Reeves

Margaret Reeves

Congress, we need a Farm Bill NOW!

When Congress returned from recess this week they started negotiating the terms under which the Farm Bill will be extended (beyond its September 30 ending date) and funded for at least the next six months. The proposal on the table guts conservation programs. 

In the face of the most disastrous, widespread drought in a generation, Congress is proposing to cut the very conservation programs that help farmers protect themselves from the worst ravages of drought, flooding, extreme temperatures, increased pest pressures, loss of pollinator resources and more. PAN joins organizations around the country in urging Congress to keep conservation programs and stop playing politics with disaster relief.

Please tell your representatives to protect vital resources such as soil, water and the next generation of farmers. In so doing we protect our capacity to adequately feed our families and communities now, and into the future.

Conservation is self-preservation & good investment

The core Farm Bill conservation programs — including the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) — work together to help farmers conserve water and improve water quality, protect and rebuild soil, and protect pollinator and other wildlife habitat. They are smart, long-term investments in the future of our agricultural lands — and our nation’s food supply.

Farm Bill conservation programs cost relatively little, compared to other Farm Bill programs, yet they deliver great results directly to thousands of farmers across the country. In addition,  these programs promote economic growth, create jobs, produce healthy food, achieve environmental sustainability, and do so with investments that offer the greatest bang for the buck.

In California, for example, in 2010 a relatively small government investment of $180 million in conservation programs led to a total of $350 million invested by all parties. In other words, our tax dollars leverage additional, non-taxpayer dollars that result in quantifiable improvements in soil, water, air and wildlife resources.

Programs on the chopping block

The proposed continuing resolution being voted on this week would shut down the vital Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for an entire year, as well as other critical programs. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) frames the issue well:

For lack of creativity and courage, the available win-win solution has been turned by Congressional leaders into a lose-lose disaster. And the losers are not only the farmers who will be denied access to programs to help them preserve natural resources and protect the environment.  Also lost are new opportunities to amend farming systems and land uses to more effectively deal with drought and other extreme weather conditions to help preserve our future food security.

Take Action » Help us tell Congress to protect vital conservation programs. Tell them as well that we need to pass the 2012 Farm Bill and fully fund programs for beginning farmers, local food, organic research and production, and rural jobs. Let’s finish a Farm Bill now!

Picture of Margaret Reeves

Margaret Reeves

Margaret Reeves is a PAN Senior Scientist with expertise in agroecology and soil ecology. As a long-time farmworker advocate, Margaret serves on the Board of the Equitable Food Initiative and works with partners around the country to ensure worker-protective federal and state policy. Follow @MargaretatPAN

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