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."
Voluntary soil and water conservation programs "aren't leading to clean water, clean air and a healthy environment," says the Environmental Working Group in unveiling a database that tracks federal conservation spending to the county level. EWG says Congress should require farmers to perform more stewardship work in exchange for farm supports, and focus scattershot conservation programs on the practices with the greatest payoff in the areas with the greatest need.
The maximum payment through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program will rise to $450,000 from the current $300,000, said USDA ahead of publishing an interim final rule that would incorporate changes made by the 2014 farm law.
More than $4 million in funding and expert advice will be provided to farmers and ranchers in five Midwestern states, to improve habitat for honey bees, a valuable crop pollinator that suffers high mortality rates.