Yes, Corn+Soybean Digest isn’t an agricultural policy brand – we leave that to our sister brands like Farm Futures, Farm Progress, Farm Press, our livestock and even our radio/TV brands.
However, at CSD, we are champions for conservation and soil health. So sometimes, we also think different editorially, when it comes to important information we feel compelled to deliver.
To that end, with Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue finally in place, have you contacted your lawmakers yet about the critical importance of voluntary conservation programs?
As you may recall, President Trump’s FY2018 budget released on March 14 showed a cut of 21% to USDA. While this initial budget didn’t offer many details, it did call for staff reduction at USDA Service Centers and encouraged a privatization of conservation planning.
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) is offering grassroots help (detailed policy information, letter writing, congressional contacts and more) to ensure that both public (NRCS) and private sectors continue to support voluntary conservation programs – including local technical assistance that is vital to assist landowners to become better stewards of their natural resources.
NACD says conservation districts work hand-in-hand with NRCS staff to provide farmers/landowners with technical or scientific expertise needed to evaluate their land’s unique resource needs and help address those needs.
NACD requests that Congress continue funding for USDA’s Conservation Operations, Including Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA), at $865 million in FY2018. NACD believes that this level of funding will deliver critical conservation programs; help landowners design and implement conservation plans; and most importantly, provide the conservation practices that ensure clean water, healthy soils, and other vital benefits on which the public relies each day.
In addition, by the end of this week, Congress is anticipated to pass an appropriations bill to fund the federal government through the end of FY 2017. NACD is urging Congress to reverse proposed cuts to mandatory farm bill programs, such as EQIP and CSP, and to continue robust discretionary funding for other programs, including NRCS’ CTA program and EPA’s 319 grants. They encourage farmers to tell members of Congress about the importance of federal voluntary conservation programs.
We couldn’t agree more – as more funding is needed, not less – to help farmers get both technical and financial assistance to achieve their soil health and water quality goals.