Farm Bill Debate

Farm Bill Debate

Jan 14, 2014

With Congress back in Washington after the holiday break, conservationists are watching

for any progress toward passage of a farm bill. Heading into the break, Congress and

interest groups rejected the prospect of another extension of the existing farm legislation.

And while SNAP, the food assistance element of the bill, continues as the big money

issue; crop support systems and ‘Sodsaver’ are getting much of the conservation title

attention. Sodsaver is a provision which reduces subsidies on cropland that is converted

from native grasses…and remains one of the contested issues.

If you support a strong conservation program, contact your Congressman or Senator and

urge them to support strong Sodsaver provisions in any federal farm bill.

Opponents argue that Sodsaver adds additional hurdles to the farm bill. Not so. Farm

producer have to show cropping history and maintain records to qualify for crop

insurance. Adding Sodsaver would actually save taxpayers $16 million by trimming the

subsidy so that farmers do not convert fragile grassland just to obtain more funding from

the government to farm.

Of course, Sodsaver holds on to benefits for the outdoor recreation industry; too. Hunting

alone creates a $38 billion bump for our economy. A big part of that is waterfowl

hunting. And waterfowl hunting, of course, requires a little water; wetlands throughout

the migration corridors in the Midwest Prairie Pothole Region….and throughout North

America.

Iowa ranks 5th

(22,301), making it tougher for our 253,000 hunters to pursue their passion. That takes

a bite out of the $448 million we spend in Iowa on hunting related equipment, supplies

and related items…dollars which support 6975 jobs, according to the U.S Fish & Wildlife

Service.

Grasslands and wetlands need protection. Our outdoor heritage and economy are too

important. Contact your Senators and Representative…as well as candidates to replace

them, in this election year. Tell them we need a national Sodsaver provision in the

next farm bill. Also tell them you oppose any efforts to weaken Swampbuster’s vital

protections of wetlands.

And when a farm bill is finally passed by Congress…check for the final decision; and

keep your concerns active, as the final rules are written for what should be a five year

Farm program plan.