Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Conservation Groups United Around Federal Farm Bill Consensus Recommendations

A coalition of 26 conservation organizations representing agriculture, wildlife, sportsmen, conservation and environmental groups have put together a series of consensus recommendations they are advocating for during the upcoming debate in Congress over reauthorization of the federal Farm Bill, including--
-- Increased Funding For Voluntary Conservation Programs to improve water quality, soil health, reduce erosion and conserve wildlife habitat;
-- Better Target Environmental Quality Incentives Program Funding providing cost-share and technical assistance to implement conservation practices;
-- Expand The Conservation Stewardship Program to implement additional conservation practices on working farms;
-- Increase Funding, Making Program Improvements To Regional Conservation Partnership Program;
-- Restore Historic Funding Levels To Agricultural Conservation Easement Program;
-- Increase Acreage Cap For The Conservation Reserve Program;
-- Take Additional Steps To Assure Conservation Compliance;
-- Reform Crop Insurance Program To Support, Encourage Conservation Practices; and
-- Reauthorized Forestry, Grasslands, Habitat And Public Access Programs.
“Once every five years, Congress has the opportunity to improve the sustainability and security of our nation's farms and ranches by providing support for private lands conservation programs,” said Alyssa Charney, Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
“The need for more effective and better-resourced conservation programs is greater now than ever given the rising frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Farmers depend on federal conservation programs to help them improve soil health, protect water quality, and limit the impacts of drought and flooding.
“The groups that have signed on to these consensus recommendations, including the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, are therefore united in calling for an increase in Conservation Title funding to address agriculture's very real needs with real solutions.
“The next farm bill must not simply shuffle money around, robbing one program to support another.
"The consensus statement calls for comprehensive solutions and urges Congress to blaze a new path for conservation in the 2018 Farm Bill – one that adequately supports and respects our nation's food producers, wildlife, natural resources, and rural communities.”
Among the groups supporting these recommendations are: American Rivers, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, National Audubon Society, National  Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Izaak Walton League of America, National Wildlife Federation, The Conservation Fund, Water Environment Federation and World Wildlife Fund.
Federal support through the Farm Bill has become even more important over the last 10 years as the Pennsylvania General Assembly and various Governors have dramatically cut funding to on-farm conservation and watershed restoration programs.
They are a vital part of Pennsylvania’s program to meet water quality improvement requirements in Total Maximum Daily Load watershed Plans statewide and for cleaning up the Commonwealth’s rivers and streams to comply with Chesapeake Bay Program nutrient and sediment reduction milestones.
Click Here for a copy of the recommendations and the entire list of groups supporting them.

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