Capitol visit successful for Iowa, Minnesota farmers

Landowners, DU governmental affairs staff discuss importance of the 2012 Farm Bill, the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Conservation Reserve Program with Congress

Jim Goodman, a Crescent, Iowa, landowner, joined Toni and Philip Brink of Traverse County, Minn., in Washington, D.C., on July 24-26 as part of a Ducks Unlimited farmer fly-in. These fly-ins help educate and inform legislators of the importance of the 2012 Farm Bill conservation programs, specifically funding for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Goodman and the Brinks met with their state delegations, which included Ranking Member Collin Peterson (MN) of the House Agriculture Committee; Reps. Steve King (IA), Leonard Boswell (IA) and Tom Latham (IA); and Sens. Al Franken (MN), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Tom Harkin (IA) and Chuck Grassley (IA). They discussed the details of the farm bill, how they have implemented WRP and CRP on their farms and the importance of the programs' renewal to landowners and fellow farmers across the country.

"We're pleased to join conservation-minded producers in these meetings with their elected leaders," said Eric Lindstrom, government affairs representative in DU's Great Plains Region. "The farm bill is the single-largest private lands habitat conservation program in the country and Congress needs to recognize the importance of these conservation programs."

Goodman farms more than 8,000 acres near Council Bluffs, along the Missouri River Valley in western Iowa. His primary operation consists of corn and soybean production and he currently has more than 70 active CRP contracts on his property, including nine large, restored wetland basins. Over the years, Goodman has enjoyed the ecological, economic and recreational benefits provided by these restored habitats; his trip to Washington allowed him to tell this success story and encourage support from members of Congress.

Similarly, the Brink family raises corn and soybeans on 3,400 acres of southern Red River Valley land in west-central Minnesota. They have 70 acres enrolled in CRP and more than 164 acres enrolled in WRP. The Brinks have demonstrated the value of incorporating wetlands and other conservation practices into their sustainable agricultural operation for increased economic and biological diversity.

"As the farm bill continues, it is important that members of Congress continue to hear from farmers, like the Brinks and Mr. Goodman, regarding the significance of conservation programs," said Dan Wrinn, director of public policy at DU's Governmental Affairs Office. "Voluntary conservation programs provide landowners with resources that financially benefit their farms and improve wildlife habitats. These programs are essential to move rural America forward and ensure farmers and ranchers can be competitive and successful in fulfilling local, national and global needs for food, fiber and energy."