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Conservation leaders testify about significance of farm bill programs
Guest Opinion
Washington, D.C. — The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) stressed before Congress June 7 the significance of the Farm Bill conservation programs to agricultural producers.

At a general oversight hearing convened by Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) to review the implementation of the 2002 Farm Bill conservation title, NACD President Elect Olin Sims, a rancher from McFadden, Wyo., provided testimony highlighting the importance of conservation programs across the nation.

“The 2002 Farm Bill impacted producers across the country, but in my area, the conservation programs are the Farm Bill,” Sims said. He highlighted his own participation in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and other programs to improve range conditions on his family’s ranch.

“The 2002 Farm Bill was a hallmark for conservation in this country,” Sims added. “It offers a mix of programs and resources to build upon for the future.” He stressed the importance of on-the-ground results and told the committee that having the programs to achieve those results will be the principal measure of success for the 2007 Farm Bill.

Sims also focused on the importance of Conservation Technical Assistance, stressing that the bottom line for producers is the need for skilled people to provide quality technical assistance to maximize the effectiveness of the financial assistance they receive through farm bill programs.

Conservation technical assistance allows local USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service staff and conservation districts to work with landowners on conservation plans from design and layout to implementation. Agricultural producers can then seek financial assistance through the Farm Bill programs to implement the specific practices outlined in the conservation plans.

The 2002 Farm Bill provides mandatory federal funding for conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Reserve Program, the Conservation Security Program and many others. Programs are set to expire in 2007 and new legislation will be written to replace the 2002 bill.

Also testifying before the House Committee were the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Chief Bruce Knight; the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs John Johnson; the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs James Earl Kennamer; Andrew Farm’s James Andrew on behalf of the Iowa Soybean Association and the National Pork Producers Council’s Environmental Policy Committee Chair Randall Spronk.

The National Association of Conservation Districts is the non-profit organization that represents the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts and 17,000 men and women who serve on their governing boards. For almost 70 years, local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. NACD’s website is at www.nacdnet.org

This farm news was published in the June 14, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

6/14/2006