Congress has voted repeatedly to constrain spending under the Conservation Stewardship Program, created to pay farmers to make soil and water conservation a part of their daily operations. University of Illinois associate professor Jonathan Coppess, writing at the farmdoc daily blog, said the "incredible shrinking of CSP ... may also serve as a warning" about stewardship funding in the 2023 farm bill.
If Congress follows the farm bill recommendations of the Conservation Coalition, it would revive a $5-an-acre discount on crop insurance premiums for farmers who plant cover crops. The coalition, an alliance of farm, land stewardship, and environmental groups, also said on Wednesday that the 2023 farm bill should raise the enrollment cap for the land-idling Conservation Reserve.
The Biden administration appointed Gloria Montano Greene and Zach Ducheneaux as top officials overseeing the USDA's farm subsidy and land stewardship programs, effective Monday.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley feigned shock on Thursday that House and Senate negotiators did not want his farm subsidy reform in the final version of the five-year farm bill. “Surprise, surprise, surprise,” he said scornfully.
With congressional leaders calling the shots on forestry language, and with an incendiary Republican proposal for strict SNAP work requirements apparently off the table, negotiators reached a tentative agreement Wednesday on a farm bill that is evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Farm bill negotiators spoke smilingly of comity and compromise while budging not an inch on major issues such as SNAP work requirements on Wednesday during their first, and possibly last, public meeting.
In a letter to the “big four” farm bill negotiators, 107 House Democrats called for stronger conservation programs in the final version of the bill and said they opposed provisions that would weaken pesticide regulation, interfere with state regulation of agricultural trade, or fundamentally alter the food stamp program.
If farm bill negotiators allow “anti-environment policy riders” into the bill’s final version, they can expect protracted debate and possible defeat of the panoramic legislation, said 38 Democratic senators on Thursday.
Almost as soon as Congress reconvenes after the Labor Day weekend, the nearly six dozen farm bill negotiators will hold their first public meeting, announced the leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees.
With the support of the Trump administration, the Republican-controlled House wrote welfare reform into the farm bill. Now, GOP leaders say they will call a vote as early as Tuesday in the House for a face-to-face confrontation with the Senate over broader and more rigorous work requirements affecting an estimated 7 million food stamp recipients.
In a survey of over 800 farmers and ranchers across five states, the Center for Rural Affairs found overwhelming support for the farm bill's Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The Nebraska-based organization, which advocates for environmental stewardship and rural communities, concluded that the CSP should continue to exist and be funded as a standalone farm-bill initiative.
The Republican-sponsored House farm bill unveiled on Thursday would expand the land-idling Conservation Reserve by one-fifth and eliminate the green-payment Conservation Stewardship Program.
President Trump called for elimination of the USDA’s green-payment program for working lands conservation in his budget. Now four members of the Senate Agriculture Committee are taking the opposite approach.
Five weeks after he told the largest U.S. farm group that he supports "a [farm] bill that includes crop insurance," President Trump asked Congress to slash the taxpayer-subsidized program by a third. The $26-billion cut over a decade was part of a fiscal 2019 budget package that called for the eradication of USDA's first green-payment program and for denial of crop subsidies and land stewardship payments to people with more than $500,000 in adjusted gross income.
The USDA spends several billion dollars a year on voluntary land stewardship programs. With the 2018 farm bill on the horizon, two members of the House Agriculture Committee have unveiled legislation that would require the USDA to evaluate and report on the impact of the soil and water projects it bankrolls.
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."
Some 72 million acres of farmland are enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), 8 percent of all U.S. farmland and equal in size to Iowa and Georgia combined, says the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in a report. The CSP was the first program at USDA to provide an annual payment to producers who adopt conservation practices as part of their daily operations. The green-payment program is nearly three times larger than the better-known Conservation Reserve, which pays landowners to idle fragile land.
The senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow, and Iowa Republican Joni Ernst have proposed a tripling of funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program as part of legislation that would give the program more flexibility.