Farm Policy Roundup – July 26, 2013

Rancher with lassoNo Movement on Farm Bill Conference as August Recess Approaches

There has not been significant movement this week toward a Farm Bill conference committee. While a formal conference could begin at any time, we anticipate that Congress will not begin the process until the House of Representatives determines if a compromise is possible for nutrition programs. The House earlier this month passed a farm policy-only bill that broke apart farm and nutrition programs.

American Farmland Trust isn’t waiting idle as Congress determines how to proceed. We are working to provide our views to the agriculture committees as well as working with partners in the conservation community to create the best possible outcome for farmland conservation provisions in a final farm bill.

Contact Your Members of Congress Today!

We need you to weigh in with Congress, too. Your advocacy for farmland conservation programs in a five-year Farm Bill is needed more than ever. Visit the American Farmland Trust Action Center today to send a letter to your Senators and Representative telling them how vitally important conservation is to you!

Senate Agriculture Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing

The Senate Agriculture Committee this week held a hearing and confirmed the nominations of Krysta Harden to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Robert Bonnie to be Undersecretary of Natural Resources and the Environment. Both are expected to receive swift confirmation in the Senate.

Weller Named NRCS Chief

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week named Jason Weller as Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Weller had been serving as Acting Chief since December. American Farmland Trust congratulates Chief Weller and looks forward to his service.

Before being named Chief, Weller previously has served as NRCS chief of staff, as staff to the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee and the House Budget committee, and as a budget examiner for the Office of Management and Budget.

Weller is originally from Northern California.

American Farmland Trust Leads Symposia at Soil and Water Conservation Society Conference

American Farmland Trust participated in the annual Soil and Water Conservation Society Conference this week in Reno, Nev. The conference focused on resilient landscapes and planning for fire, floods and drought.

Michael Baise, Midwest Director and Jeremy Peters, Director of Federal Policy, led a variety of symposia at the conference including Leadership Efforts in Midwestern Watersheds, Climate Change Adaptation Recommendations, and Policy Analysis of the 2013 Farm Bill.

USDA Announces Additional 1.7 million Acres to be Enrolled in Conservation Reserve Program

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will enroll an additional 1.7 million acres as a result of the 45th General Sign-Up, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week. More than 28,000 offers to enroll 1.9 million acres were received as a result of the sign-up. With the additional acres, this brings national enrollment to 26.9 million acres on 700,000 contracts.CRP provides multiple benefits for farms and the environment. According to USDA, in 2012 alone CRP helped to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous losses from farm fields by 605 million pounds and 121 million pounds respectively. CRP has also restored more than two million acres of wetlands and associated buffers and reduces soil erosion by more than 300 million tons per year. CRP land also improves the air, resulting in carbon sequestration equal to taking almost 10 million cars off the road.

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  • Random Quote

    “Since 1985, compliance has been a successful part of farm policy. As crop and revenue insurance becomes the core of agriculture’s financial safety net, we need to retain the same commitment to conservation that has been a part of past farm programs.” — Jon Scholl, President, American Farmland Trust