Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Farm Bill Essential For Great Lakes Restoration

Jul 17: Environmental organizations are saying that the 2012 Farm Bill conservation programs are essential for Great Lakes Restoration. As WIMS has reported the House Agriculture Committee has approved the House version of the Farm Bill, H.R.6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (FARRM) [See WIMS 6/17/12], and the full Senate has approved its version, S.3240 [See WIMS 6/21/12]. The current law expires on September 30, 2012.
    In a release, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition (HOW) reports that the primary agriculture and food policy tool of the Federal government, the Farm Bill awards more than $500 million per year to farmers in the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Jeff Skelding, HOW director said, "Farm conservation programs are essential for Great Lakes restoration. Farm conservation programs are producing results, but there is more work to do. We thank Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R- KS) and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Colin Peterson (D-MN) for their leadership to work collaboratively to revise the Farm Bill. We are excited to work with the Great Lakes congressional delegation to pass a strong 2012 Farm Bill that is good for people, the Great Lakes and the economy."
    HOW indicates that, U.S. House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill contain about $58 billion for rural conservation programs -- a cut of roughly 10 percent from the 2008 Farm Bill. The bills also contain a new regional partnership program that targets conservation funding to as many as eight priority conservation regions, including the Great Lakes region. The new program could provide approximately $7.8 million per year in additional Farm Bill funds for conservation work. HOW also reports that the Senate-passed version also contains strong conservation policies, including conservation compliance, which is a covenant between farmers and taxpayers: To receive federal financial assistance, farmers must embrace simple conservation practices, refraining from farming highly erodible soils or draining wetlands on their property. These steps are critical for reducing soil erosion, protecting wetlands, reducing downstream flooding risk and decreasing nutrients into rivers, lakes and streams.
    Access a release from HOW with more comments from environmental organizations and additional details (click here).
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