Washington, DC – Today, Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and Mike Thompson (CA-05), along with more than 100 other members of the House of Representatives, sent a letter to the leadership of the House urging them to adopt language from the Senate Farm Bill, S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, which maintains the decades old compact between taxpayers and producers known as conservation compliance, when the Farm Bill goes to conference with the Senate.
“Through conservation compliance, we’ve improved our water quality and drinking water supplies and protected important habitat. Conservation compliance has contributed to a more sustainable agriculture system and benefited farmers, consumers and the environment. These successes should be continued,” the letter reads. “The Senate extended conservation compliance to their crop insurance and revenue support programs, and there is significant support for such provisions in the House. We urge you to include conservation compliance in any eventual conference report.”
As a result of conservation compliance measures Congress enacted in 1985, farmers have adopted basic land management practices to reduce soil erosion and protect wetlands in exchange for farm program benefits. As a result of these measures, soil erosion has been reduced by 40 percent on over 140 million acres of farmland. Agricultural productivity has increased, drinking water and important habitat have been protected, and water quality has improved.
“We’re gratified to see more than 100 Members of Congress support extension of a common sense conservation policy that we know works,” said Tim Male, Vice President for Conservation Policy at Defenders of Wildlife. “Basic soil and wetland protection has been linked to farm subsidies for many years and has been one of our most successful if least well-known conservation programs on America’s farms.”
“We've lost more wetlands and prairie to the plow in the last four years than we have in the last 40 years,” said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group. “That's why it’s so important that basic protections are tied to our farm safety net.”
“We thank these members of Congress for sending the message that farm subsidies should not be used to harm our nation’s soil, water and wildlife. We hope the final farm bill includes these critical conservation measures.” Said Julie Sibbing, Director of Agriculture and Forestry Programs at the National Wildlife Federation.