Several DU staff sat down with the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Tom Harkin (Iowa) recently to discuss the current state of the farm bill in the U.S. Senate. The news that came out of the meeting was mixed for conservation. The latest draft of the bill showed slight gains for conservation, but still left a hole of more than $5.5 billion for the bill.
Lawmakers are continuing to modify the bill and are working with conservation groups to find solutions to fund conservation programs like the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Grasslands Reserve Program.
The current farm bill expired at the close of business on September 30, 2007, so there will be a temporary continuation of the current bill until the new one is passed. In the meantime, now is the time for DU members to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill.
If you care about conservation, please send an email or make a phone call to your senators. Remind them to make sure that proven conservation programs like WRP and GRP are fully funded.
To send a message to your Senators, please click here.
Highest Priorities of the Farm bill:
- Within the national cap, maintain at least 7.8 million acres of the Conservation Reserve Program in the Prairie Pothole Region.
- Maintain an annual allocation of WRP of at least 250,000 acres, with a nationwide cap of 3,525,000 acres.
- Push for a Sodsaver amendment that provides disincentives for those who convert native prairie to cropland.
- Maintain/encourage disincentives for converting wetlands to other uses.
Ensure that agricultural policy on bio-fuels is consistent with the conservation of waterfowl and other wildlife.
Here are a few photos of former CRP lands in Burleigh and Day Co., South Dakota now burned and plowed for row cropping.
There are 15,000+ acres expiring in Burleigh County.
Former CRP grassland burned in preparation for planting.
This former CRP field was part of a public hunting program. There’s no place to hunt now.