Farm Policy Roundup – August 30, 2013

PotentRancher with lassoial Farm Bill Movement in September

Several news outlets have reported this week the potential for movement on the Farm Bill in September. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has made assurances that a conference committee will be appointed next month to reconcile differences between House and Senate versions of the bill.

American Farmland Trust has led a successful advocacy campaign during the month of August, exceeding our original goal of 10,000 messages to Congress to finish the farm bill. Because of that great response, we have decided to double down and go for 20,000 messages. We are almost there, but we still need your help! Visit the AFT Action Center today to add your voice to the tens of thousands of messages that have already been sent!

The ongoing dispute over farm and nutrition policy in the House of Representatives has created a major rift between the Republican Study Committee (RSC) and The Heritage Foundation. National Journal reported this week that RSC leaders have decided to bar Heritage Foundation staff from attending meetings because of discontent with inconsistencies in the organization’s position on farm policy earlier this summer.

Reports on Conservation, Climate Change and Crop Insurance

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) report that shows farmers have significantly reduced the loss of sediment and nutrients from farm fields through voluntary conservation work in the lower Mississippi River basin. Secretary Vilsack highlighted the value of conservation programs to these efforts, and called on Congress to pass a comprehensive Farm Bill that would enable USDA to continue supporting conservation work on farms and ranches.

The report shows conservation work, like controlling erosion and managing nutrients, has reduced the edge-of-field losses of sediment by 35 percent, nitrogen by 21 percent and phosphorous by 52 percent.

Also from USDA, the Climate Change Program Office of the Office of the Chief Economist released and requested public comments on the report,  Science-Based Methods for Entity-Scale Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks from Agriculture and Forestry Practices. The report is the work of 38 scientists from across academia, USDA and the federal government, who are experts in greenhouse gas (GHG) estimation in the cropland, grazing land, livestock and forest management sectors. The report has undergone technical review by an additional 29 scientists.

This week, the Natural Resources Defense Council announced a new plan to encourage “good farmer” insurance.  The statement was made  during a press conference on the release of a study looking at how the current federal crop insurance program encourages farmers to turn to crop insurance to manage weather-related crop risks rather than taking steps to improve conservation and soil health.

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  • Random Quote

    We need to basically bring ourselves together, converge our thoughts, our minds, our resources, in terms of where we want to be with agriculture in this country utilizing the tools that a federal government might bring together — to start really very seriously preparing ourselves for an exciting process that is ultimately a plan for the agricultural future of this country. — AG Kawamura, former California Secretary of Agriculture and co-chair of Solutions From the Land