Congress returns to Capitol Hill in just a couple of weeks and there will be only nine legislative days and a full plate of issues that need to be addressed before September 30. Passage of the farm bill is vitally important for continued protection of our nation’s farmland, opportunities for beginning farmers, and access to fresh, local food. American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine takes a larger view on why the Farm Bill needs to be finished in the Denver Post.
Farm Bill Conservation Program Helped Farmers and Ranchers During Historic Drought
The 2012 drought affected every sector of agriculture. Farmers and ranchers benefited from access to Farm Bill conservation programs to protect fragile soils, restore wetlands and conserve precious water but also, as recently revealed by USDA, to help overcome cattle grazing challenges. Land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a Farm Bill program that has been providing benefits to soil, water and wildlife across the country for more than 25 years, was used for emergency haying and grazing when livestock feed was scarce. According to USDA, the emergency practice, which can also improve the environmental value of the CRP acres, was conducted on almost 2.8 million acres and managed haying and grazing on another 700,000 acres. About 27 million acres of farmland were enrolled in the program as of June 2013.