This fall, the Izaak Walton League is working with a broad coalition on a national conservation victory that would save taxpayers millions of dollars while conserving important wildlife habitat across the United States. Our goal is to pass a Farm Bill that protects farmers, clean water, and healthy habitat at the same time. And the time is now: Congress has just over a month left to complete the 2012 Farm Bill. At this crucial point in the debate, we need your help to succeed. Will you make an online donation of $25 or $50 to help us conserve your tax dollars and America's last wetlands and prairies?
Each year, billions of taxpayer dollars are spent to subsidize crop insurance premiums for farmers across the United States ($7.4 billion in 2011 alone). Crop insurance is an important safety net for farming families and for the nation's food system – as this summer's historic drought demonstrates – and the League wholeheartedly supports it in principle.
But there is a big problem with the crop insurance system today: while taxpayers provide billions of dollars to subsidize premiums, producers do not have to meet basic conservation standards that reduce soil erosion, protect water quality, and conserve wetlands. Almost every other farm support payment is coupled with these conservation compliance provisions. And payments for crop insurance premiums were too until Congress broke that link in 1996.
Now, Congress is debating the 2012 Farm Bill and proposing to eliminate many support payments – and the compliance standards that go with them– and make crop insurance the center-piece of taxpayer support for farmers. This means that taxpayers will provide billions of dollars in subsidies, but get fewer conservation benefits in return.
Luckily, there's a common-sense solution: reestablish the connection between taxpayer-provided subsidies for crop insurance and simple conservation practices. Under this policy, taxpayers will support farmers and, in return, farmers will do their part to protect water quality and conserve wetlands that provide habitat for waterfowl, support duck hunting, and reduce flooding. If some producers decide not to implement conservation measures, taxpayers will save because we won't subsidize crop insurance premiums for wetlands or native prairie that are plowed under for farm use.
We're at a critical point in the Farm Bill debate. Congress has about a month left to complete the 2012 Farm Bill. And we've got the best chance in years to address this problem. The Senate adopted a Farm Bill in June that reconnects conservation standards with crop insurance premium subsidies. This is a huge victory – and the League and many others achieved it in the face of determined and vocal opposition from the farm lobby. However, the House bill does not include a similar provision and opposition is even stronger than in the Senate.
We're halfway to our goal. We're going to need to fight twice as hard to address this issue in the House and then ensure conservation compliance is included in the final 2012 Farm Bill. We'll need to mobilize our members and citizens across the country, convince reporters and editors to write about it, and maintain a constant presence on Capital Hill.
We have one chance to get this right, or your tax dollars will support the destruction of wetlands and native prairie for years to come. You can help by making an online donation today. The battle over crop insurance in this year's Farm Bill will be hard-fought and close, and every dollar will count. Your donation – whatever the size– will make a big difference.
If you want to learn more about the 2012 Farm Bill and the League's common-sense proposals to make it a win-win for taxpayers, farmers, and wildlife, download our free report, "The 2012 Farm Bill: Stewardship, Prosperity and Fairness."
Thank you for your passion and commitment to conservation!
Acting Executive Director
Izaak Walton League of America
( If ever there was a time to restore the future of conservation as we know it, it is now and linked to this very subject. What we do today will greatly benefit future generations.
William J. Smith
Mo. Valley Waterfowlers Association
Sioux City Iowa