Today, you have a new opportunity to take action on this critical legislation. Last month, the Senate Agriculture Committee completed its version of the 2012 farm bill, and now the House Agriculture Committee has been holding hearings to hear from farmers and other stakeholders on their version.
Many important farm conservation programs are likely to change dramatically as Congress takes action to reduce spending this year. The Senate has already proposed to cut farm conservation funding by over $6 billion as part of its farm bill proposal. With a reduction in funding looming, it is critical that the conservation policies Congress enacts be strong and efficient.
The House Agriculture Committee has set up an online form where you can submit comments to be considered as part of the Committee’s official farm bill hearing record. The form will only be available until Sunday, May 20, so your action is needed right away.
This action alert is different from those we normally send because you will need to manually fill out the Committee’s contact form. We encourage you to create your own message or copy and paste our sample message, available below.
The House Agriculture Committee feedback form is located at http://send02.thedatabank.com/?r=MTAwMw ... 9yZw%3d%3d.
WHAT IS AT STAKE?
In 1985, American taxpayers and farmers entered into a contract to provide a safety net for the country’s food producers in return for protection of critical natural resources. Known as “conservation compliance,” this policy requires farmers to follow conservation plans that limit soil erosion on highly erodible land as well as preventing destruction of wetlands and native grasslands. Farmers who willfully violate their conservation plans risk losing taxpayer funded benefits.
Today, this important connection is at risk. Taxpayer-funded subsidies for crop insurance are not currently linked to conservation compliance as they once were. In the current farm bill debate, Congress is considering eliminating Direct Payments, the major subsidy program that is linked to conservation compliance, and move some of those funds to support increased subsidies for crop insurance, which currently lacks compliance requirements. Unless Congress reconnects crop insurance subsidies to conservation compliance, a significant part of farmers’ incentive to follow conservation plans will disappear this year.
In order to ensure that the agricultural safety net works in harmony with conservation programs and responsible land uses, conservation compliance provisions should be strengthened and enforced.
SUGGESTED MESSAGE TO CONGRESS
(We encourage you to personalize this message to explain why you think conservation protections belong in the next farm bill.)
Dear House Agriculture Committee: Because of the important role farmers play in our food system, taxpayers have supported a safety net for farmers for nearly 30 years, always in return for a guarantee that subsidized farmers will follow basic conservation practices in their fields. This revolved around the basic realization that while Americans needed food, it was critical to utilize conservation practices in order to preserve the economic viability and productivity of our farmlands and resources for the future.
As the House Agriculture Committee prepares its version of the farm bill, I urge you to restore the link between taxpayer-supported subsidies for crop insurance and conservation compliance protections that will protect the nation’s water and land. This action is especially important as Congress considers eliminating direct payments, the major subsidy program that is linked to conservation compliance, and moving some of those funds to support increased subsidies for crop insurance, which lacks compliance requirements. Unless you help to reconnect crop insurance subsidies to conservation compliance, a significant part of farmers’ incentive to follow conservation plans will disappear this year.
Farmers need crop insurance as part of their safety net and the public needs basic conservation practices on farms to make sure that quality farm land and water can support future generations as well as the current needs of our country. We cannot accept sacrificing long-term economic and environmental sustainability for short-sighted and short-term economic profits. Connecting eligibility for crop insurance subsidies to conservation compliance is fiscally responsible and ensures public subsidies for farmer’s insurance premium payments align with the public’s interest in basic conservation of our soil and water.
[your name] SEND YOUR MESSAGE NOW:
The House Agriculture Committee feedback form is located at http://send02.thedatabank.com/?r=MTAwMw ... 9yZw%3d%3d