New market planned to pay farmers for soil carbon, water quality

General Mills, ADM, Cargill, McDonalds, and The Nature Conservancy are among 10 companies and nonprofit organizations that are forming a national market by 2022 to incentivize the adoption of farming practices that build soil carbon and improve water conservation.

Casey: Tweaks to conservation programs will help ‘homegrown organic’

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey says modifications to three USDA conservation programs will help organic farmers get established. A member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Casey said with demand on the rise for organic food, "we must do all we can to help American farmers and ranchers meet this demand."

Small-farm coalition wants cap on crop-insurance subsidies to big producers

The federally subsidized crop-insurance program, which costs $8 billion a year, "is an unlimited, uncapped entitlement program," says a coalition of 119 small-farm, organic and land-stewardship groups in farm bill proposals at odds with large-scale agriculture. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition proposed an annual limit of $50,000 in premium subsidies for the major crops, such as corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton, and a limit of $80,000 for higher-value specialty crops, such as fruit and vegetables.

Farm bill critics propose a food bill that reduces subsidies, enhances public nutrition

The “farm bill coalition” that guides the $90 billion-a-year farm bill through Congress traditionally is composed of farm, conservation and antihunger groups. Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer unveiled an alternative bill that would reduce farm subsidies, strengthen soil and water stewardship rules, …

Wheat yields benefit from cover crops, says farmer survey

Farmers taking part in a survey about cover crops reported a nearly 3-percent increase in wheat yields when cover crops are used in the offseason, says the Conservation Technology Information Center. This was the first time the survey compiled enough responses to calculate the impact on wheat; past surveys associated cover crops with higher corn and soybean yields.

Land easements mean long-term conservation benefits, says green group

To get long-lasting benefits, USDA should pursue land easements, rather than pay billions of dollars to landowners who abandon a short-term commitment to land stewardship whenever commodity prices boom, says the Environmental Working Group.

Will a tangle of details trip up Minnesota buffer-strip law?

Come November, 11 months from now, Minnesota farmers will be required to leave a 50-foot strip of permanent vegetation along waterways to filter runoff from their fields – a landmark conservation effort. However, Minnesota Public Radio says some county officials are asking for a delay because of confusion over how the law is supposed to work and a lack of money for them to enforce it.

Trump victory throws cold water on expanded farm stewardship

The election of Donald Trump means that environmentalists can forget about new, broader rules on land and water stewardship by farmers, said a prominent Republican farm leader. "Those new regulations are not going to happen," said Chuck Conner, who added that the 2018 farm bill would continue the system of incentives for voluntary action against erosion and polluted runoff.

U.S farm income drops 46 percent in three years

The collapse in crop and livestock prices since 2013 will result in the lowest net farm income since 2009, says USDA. In the final estimate of the year, the Economic Research Service pegged farm income at $66.9 billion, down $4.5 billion from its August estimate and barely more than half of the record income that producers enjoyed just three years ago.