Bill Proposes Common Sense Reforms that Would Support Conservation Efforts & Help Beginning Farmers
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The Land Stewardship Project (LSP) applauded today’s introduction of the “Crop Insurance Modernization Act of 2018” by Minnesota U.S. Representative Rick Nolan. Rep. Nolan is the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee’s General Farm Commodities and Risk Management subcommittee, which is currently crafting the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill was conceived in a February 2017 meeting involving Land Stewardship Project farmer-members and Rep. Nolan. After months of work involving Rep. Nolan’s staff, the Land Stewardship Project and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the proposed legislation has been formally introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill represents significant positive steps forward in fixing the federal crop insurance program, which is used by farmers across the country. For example, the legislation would coordinate conservation efforts between the Risk Management Agency (RMA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Currently, farmers often have to choose between conservation efforts and crop insurance subsidies. Making it easier for them to choose conservation will help farmers build soil health through cover crops and other farming practices that create a more resilient farming system and cleaner water for all of Minnesota.
“It is common sense that conservation efforts are coordinated and promoted through the crop insurance program,” said Darwyn Bach, a corn and soybean farmer from Boyd, Minn. “Practicing good conservation on your farm is the best risk management practice, and this bill will help farmers like me implement those practices.”
• Expands access to insurance premium discounts for beginning farmers.
• Revises cover crop termination guidelines, which will allow more farmers to utilize cover crops to build soil health.
• Creates a pilot program to study the effects of providing premium subsidy enhancements to farmers engaged in advanced conservation activities.
• Strengthens conservation compliance spot checks conducted by the USDA.
• Fixes a loophole that currently allows farmers to transfer historical yield data to lower quality land.
“This bill as a positive step forward for family farmers and the land,” said Tom Nuessmeier, a farmer from Le Sueur, Minn., who also works as an LSP organizer. “We will continue working with Representative Nolan to advocate that these reforms pass as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.”