Protect Iowa's Soil and Water in the Farm Bill
Restore the Conservation Compliance Covenant Take Action!
Calls and emails needed by Tuesday Nov. 1
US lawmakers are currently proposing major changes to the Farm Bill—the primary driver of U.S. farm policy—that will impact our state’s agricultural industry and natural resources for many years to come. Unlike in previous years, the Super Committee will be holding their meetings in private once they receive budget-cutting recommendations from the US Senate & House Agriculture Committees on November 1. Because the ultimate decision regarding farm policy could be made behind closed doors, there is only a small window of time for you to give your input to Ag Committee members who represent Iowa. Voice your opinion NOW to ensure that the Ag Committees submit recommendations to the Super Committee that promote basic conservation practices on farms.
What is at stake?
Congress must restore the covenant between famers and the public that link conservation compliance with taxpayer subsidized risk management programs (i.e. crop and revenue insurance). Risk management programs don’t just provide relief after weather disasters, but ensure farm profits do not fall below a set average due to commodity prices or other non-weather factors. Compliance provisions require taxpayer-subsidized farmers to agree to farm in a way that prevents excessive soil loss on highly erodible land, prevents destruction of wetlands on farmland, and protects other environmental resources.
The link between crop insurance and conservation was part of the 1985 Farm Bill but was removed in the 1996 Farm Bill to encourage farmers to switch from direct payments to crop insurance programs. Today, federal crop insurance covers over 80% of all commodity crops grown and is the primary manner in which ag producers receive subsidies, making up the second biggest portion of the entire Farm Bill budget.
In order to ensure that the agricultural safety net works in harmony with conservation programs, conservation compliance provisions should be strengthened – and enforced. Without the link between crop insurance and conservation compliance, subsidized insurance can provide an incentive for farmers to convert marginal lands to crops because they don’t shoulder the risk of failure.