WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 2013 –American Farmland Trust (AFT), America’s leading farm and ranch land conservation group, said the recently passed Senate farm bill will help secure soil conservation practices and farm land protection for the next generation of American farmers.
The Senate approved its version of the 2013 Farm Bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013, by a bipartisan vote of 66 to 27. The Senate farm bill re-links conservation compliance with crop insurance premium assistance, a feature supported by a coalition of 32 different conservation and commodity groups, and one which AFT helped develop.
Following last year’s disappointment over the failure of the House of Representatives to take up the farm bill, AFT also welcomes the news that the farm bill will be debated on the House floor during the week of June 17. AFT President Jon Scholl urged the House to adopt the Crop Insurance Accountability Act, a bi-partisan measure sponsored by Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Cal.) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) that addresses conservation compliance and crop insurance.
“Since 1985, conservation compliance has been an important part of farm policy,” said Scholl. “We commend Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran on getting the Senate bill done with this conservation measure included, and we appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Thompson and Fortenberry in addressing in the House debate this issue that is important to the future of American agriculture.”
Conservation compliance was de-coupled from crop insurance in 1996 when the direct payment program was established. Both the Senate and House Agriculture Committee versions of the farm bill eliminate direct payments in lieu of more revenue-based risk management programs and a greater emphasis on crop insurance as farmers’ primary risk management tool.
AFT supports the re-linking of conservation compliance with crop insurance as the most efficient and effective means of protecting against soil erosion, preserving wetlands and protecting taxpayers’ investment in sound agricultural and conservation policy.