Conservation Stewardship Program and the Farm Bill

Conservation Stewardship Program and the Farm Bill

Rick Worthington
Rick Worthington
Concerns are being raised about possible cuts to programs in the Farm Bill that could undermine farmers' progress on sustainable agriculture.

One version of the bill would eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program or CSP, and cut conservation funding by $5 billion.

Anna Johnson with the Center for Rural Affairs, says the CSP has been part of the Farm Bill since 2002 and it helps farmers take steps to preserve water and soil.

"It allows farmers and ranchers to continue to be producing on their land, while also instituting the conservation practices that are most helpful and most relevant for their operation," she states.

The American Farm Bureau sees the bill as a "big win" for farmers, because it makes improvements to risk management and crop insurance programs.

Johnson says there also are concerns of keeping loopholes in place for offsite or marginally connected landowners, who benefit from agricultural subsidies at the expense of working farmers.

"Farm programs and farm subsidies are really important and most farmers use them responsibly," she states. "But these multi-million-dollar payments are a problem and the House bill did nothing to address that, and actually made the existing loopholes even bigger."

The Farm Bill is revised every five years, and the current debate comes at a time when farm income is at its lowest point in 12 years.

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