U.S. House and Senate conferees met this week to start putting together a final five-year Farm Bill. Minnesota has three agriculture committee policymakers serving as conferees:
• Rep. Collin Peterson, Agriculture Committee Ranking Member, 202-225-2165
• Rep. Tim Walz, Conservation Subcommittee Ranking Member, 202-225-2472
• Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Senate Agriculture Committee Member, 202-224-3244
The Conservation Title is cut $5.6 billion in the Senate version of the Farm Bill, and $6.9 billion in the House version. This is a huge reduction, especially considering the strong demand for programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
CSP takes some of the biggest hits. The CSP reduction in the House proposal, for example, is 21 percent — that's incredibly disproportionate when compared to cuts in other conservation programs (see chart below). The 2008 Farm Bill specified that 12.8 million acres a year were to be enrolled into CSP. Cuts outlined in the pending House and Senate proposals would reduce the yearly targets to 8.7 million and 10.3 million acres, respectively.
The Land Stewardship Project has worked hard to advance CSP and also reached out to farmers about how this program might work on their farm. Cuts of this magnitude will decrease both re-enrollments and new sign-ups for 2014 and beyond.
Minnesota is tops in the nation both in both the number of farmers using CSP (3,202 contracts) and obligated funding (over $264 million). The Conservation Stewardship Program has been successful and valuable for Minnesota crop and livestock producers.
The Land Stewardship Project is working to ensure that CSP succeeds in a final Farm Bill. We’re asking you to contact Minnesota conferees this week. The message can be simple but calls are needed to demonstrate support for the Conservation Stewardship Program.
"I’m calling to leave Farm Bill conferee (Rep. or Sen.) a message. This is _____________ from ___________ . This is a good program that actually works for farmers and the land. A final Farm Bill needs to include a strong investment in this program. We need to be enrolling over 10 million acres a year into the Conservation Stewardship Program. I’m asking for you to make this a priority during the conference committee work."
Please call all three Minnesota conferees at the numbers above. Leave a message with whomever you talk with or on a machine if you don’t get a person.
Additional Background on Proposed Cuts