Republican Support Continues To Grow For Conservation Compliance
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is the latest GOP senator to urge to the House-Senate conference committee to re-link the federal crop insurance program to conservation compliance in the farm bill.
Thune sent a letter along with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) to conference committee leaders on Friday (Nov. 15) saying:
These members of congress are in good company.
The Senate has voted repeatedly in favor of conservation compliance. This overwhelming bipartisan support includes backing from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) as well as former ag committee chairmen Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
Chambliss, a longtime champion of a conservation compliance provision, said to the Senate Agriculture Committee in May that "farmers should comply with conservation if they are going to get assistance from the federal government."
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, told Bloomberg BNA (subscription required) last year that he has confidence in department's ability to enact conservation compliance policy. "If the USDA implements this in a thoughtful, rational way, it'll be fine." he said.
On the House side, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) agreed that:
Former chiefs of the USDA Soil Conservation Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service sent a letter this month to the farm bill committee leaders recommending that farmers once again be required to take simple steps to protect soil and water if they are receiving subsidies toward their crop insurance premiums. The signers of that letter include officials from every administration since that of President Reagan, when the conservation compact between taxpayers and farmers was first implemented. The letter states:
Earlier this year, Jim Moseley, former USDA Deputy Secretary during the George W. Bush administration, released a report touting the success of conservation compliance for saving millions of wetland acres while keeping billions of tons of soil on farms, saying:
Former Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Moseley's boss at USDA, wrote a bipartisan letter to House and Senate leaders last year along with President Clinton's Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, urging that conservation practices be relinked to crop insurance:
There has long been bipartisan support for conservation compliance by farmers and politicians alike. Now more than ever, those leading the way in reauthorizing the farm bill may hear a growing number of prominent Republicans voicing their support to relink to crop insurance the vital conservation compact between taxpayers and farmers.