Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today said conservation is essential to producing a healthy and affordable food supply and is important now more than ever to creating new jobs and protecting our land and water. She also noted the need to continue focusing on program simplification, consolidation, flexibility and accountability.
“Conservation helps farmers and ranchers to produce food, feed, fuel and fiber while taking care of the land and water,” Chairwoman Stabenow said. “The Farm Bill is a jobs bill, and that’s as true of the conservation title as it is for anything else in the Farm Bill.”
Chester, Montana farmer Carl Mattson was a wittness during the hearing and gave his thoughts on conservation to members of the Senate Ag Committee.
Stabenow continued, “As we continue our work, this Farm Bill must focus on making our programs simpler, locally driven, science-based, and flexible. These programs must ensure that taxpayers’ investments in conservation are enabling agriculture to remain healthy and productive across the diverse landscapes of this great nation. We must be certain those 1.3 billion acres produce clean water, abundant and safe food, wildlife habitat, and conserve this way of life for future generations.”
Chairwoman Stabenow said she is focused on building on the progress that was made last year in strengthening conservation programs. A letter signed by more than 600 groups this week thanked Chairwoman Stabenow, and other agriculture leaders, for her leadership on strengthening the conservation title of the Farm Bill (that letter can be found here). Additionally, a letter from last week signed by the major commodity groups echoed the same sentiment: “The conservation efforts in the Farm Bill are critical to a strong economy, healthy and productive rural lands and vibrant communities. We applaud your efforts to simplify these programs, keeping the same tools but merging them into fewer programs.”
Michigan witness Becky Humphries, of Ducks Unlimited, also praised Chairwoman Stabenow’s efforts last year in strengthening conservation programs as part of the recommendations to the super committee, and further pressed the need to include similar provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill.
“Farmers and ranchers, conservationists and sportsmen, and all citizens have much to gain from successful, sustainable farming that conserves soil, water and wildlife,” Humphries said. “The regional partnership program developed in the Super Committee report is a great idea that needs to find its way in this next Farm Bill. Regional partnerships fueled by local diverse interest groups and supported by federal, state and private funders, are a key to accomplish watershed approaches and solutions that will yield a good farm economy and a healthy sustainable environment.”
Chief Dave White, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, underscored the impact conservation programs have had on improving soil and water conditions, and further reflected the need to continue strengthening conservation programs.
“The nation’s investments in private lands conservation are good for farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners—reduced input costs directly help the bottom line, while improved soil and water quality help maintain and enhance long-term productivity while minimizing regulatory pressures,” White said. “These same investments in conservation work for all Americans, by contributing to healthy landscapes, healthy communities, and to the food security of our nation and the world.”
Additional witnesses at the hearing included Mr. Bruce Nelson, Administrator, Farm Service Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC; Mr. Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director and CEO, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Washington, DC; Mr. Dean Stoskopf, Wheat Farmer, Stoskopf Farms, Hoisington, KS; Mr. Carl Mattson, Farmer, Mattson Farms, Chester, MT; Mr. Darrel Mosel, Farmer, Darrel Mosel Farm, Gaylord, MN; and, Mr. Earl Garber, President Elect, National Association of Conservation Districts, Basile, LA.
Source: Senate Ag Committee
Posted by Northern Ag Network