Across the country, farm advocacy groups are rallying to support conservation programs as a continued part of American agricultural policies. In recent months, Congress has begun embracing austerity measures, resulting in spending cuts to avoid enlarging the federal deficit. Some of the major programs on the chopping block have been funding for the Department of Agriculture and farm subsidies. In recent weeks, Congress has cut almost 30% of the USDA’s budget and has threatened further budget cuts to conservation programs across the country.
Many farmers have objected to these across the board cuts, particularly those affecting conservation programs. Conservation advocacy groups are worried that budget cuts could threaten endangered bioregions (like wetlands) and could threaten the long-term viability of agriculture in many areas. In addition to these direct cuts, many groups worry that ending direct payments to farmers could further threaten conservation efforts. Currently, direct payments are often tied to land conservation.
Many farmers, led by groups like the Farm Bureau, have begun advocating crop insurance as a way to replace direct payments. By linking crop insurance programs to conservation programs, farmers would maintain a safety net in bad agricultural conditions (while avoiding the inefficiencies of direct payment programs) while simultaneously retaining valuable conservation programs that help protect the future of agricultural production.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer