June 12, 2012
|This week, our U.S.Senators are taking up the Farm Bill, a massive piece of legislation that is renewed approximately every 5 years. The Farm Bill covers a broad array of food-related topics, from food stamps to farmer subsidies. Within the Farm Bill is an important provision called Conservation Compliance, which requires farmers to limit soil erosion and preserve wetlands in order to receive certain subsidies from the federal government. But one massive subsidy not subject to Compliance is crop insurance.Therefore, requiring recipients of crop insurance subsidies to be subject to Compliance is Prairie Rivers Network’s top priority for the 2012 Farm Bill. We need your help to convince Senators Kirk and Durbin that not only should they vote for the Cardin amendment (which links insurance to Compliance), but they should take a strong advocacy role to make sure the amendment passes. Please take time this week to send the suggested letter below and/or call the Senators offices in D.C.|
Here is a suggested letter (please tailor as you see fit).
Dear Senator ___:
As the Senate debates the Farm Bill this week, I urge you to support the Cardin Amendment on Conservation Compliance (SA-2219), which re-attaches important conservation requirements to crop insurance subsidies as was the case prior to 1996.
Taxpayers have supported a safety net for farmers for nearly 30 years, in return for a guarantee that subsidized farmers will follow basic conservation practices in their fields. This Conservation Compliance compact has worked to ensure a secure food system while also ensuring that critical conservation practices are in place to limit soil erosion on highly erodible land and prevent destruction of wetlands. However, crop insurance is a highly subsidized and popular program that is not subject to Conservation Compliance.
Conservation Compliance is not regulation, it is an eligibility requirement to receive taxpayer-funded support and does not threaten a farmer’s ability to get crop insurance. Compliance requirements are not new — most farmers are already meeting these requirements through the use of basic conservation practices such as no-till on highly erodible land in order to receive commodity and conservation subsidy payments. Farmers found to be out of compliance have a year to return to compliance before losing their subsidies, and farmers who suffer a weather-related disaster do not risk losing their insurance subsidy as long as they have been implementing their conservation plan and refraining from draining wetlands.
Re-establishing the link between insurance premium subsidies and Conservation Compliance is especially important as Congress considers eliminating direct payments, the major subsidy program that is currently linked to Compliance, and moving some of the savings to support substantially increased subsidies for crop insurance, which lacks Compliance requirements. Unless you help reconnect crop insurance subsidies to Conservation Compliance, a significant part of a farmer’s incentive to follow conservation plans will disappear this year.
Connecting eligibility for crop insurance subsidies to Conservation Compliance will ultimately save taxpayers money, result in more productive farmland, and ensure federal subsidies align with the public’s interest in basic conservation of our soil and water. Please not only vote for the Cardin Amendment, but encourage other Senators to do the same.