Do you care about soil health, clean water, and farmers’ ability to make a living and steward their land? Time to tune in. Congress has started work on the next farm bill, and now is when they need to hear from you: the voters.
The next farm bill offers a major opportunity to support conservation through the crop insurance program. Crop insurance is a must-have for most farmers. Linking crop insurance to conservation is therefore a smart way for Congress to invest taxpayer dollars in supporting farmers and strengthening stewardship of natural resources.
However, many farmers may be hesitant to use conservation practices due to confusing crop insurance regulations. They may ask, “Does planting cover crops impact eligibility?” Congress could eliminate this barrier by making clear that all conservation activities count as good farming practices under crop insurance.
The farm bill could also strengthen the tie between farmers’ conservation practices and their eligibility for crop insurance subsidies. Congress already passed a measure requiring farmers with highly erodible land or wetlands to meet a conservation threshold in order to receive crop insurance subsidies. It makes sense to expand this and offer a higher crop insurance subsidy to all farmers who practice conservation. These individuals are preserving the land for future generations.
Whether you are a farmer or not, everyone has three representatives in Congress: two senators and one congressperson. All three will eventually vote on a farm bill. Let your lawmakers know today that conservation is important to you.
Johnson represents the Center for Rural Affairs, a private, nonprofit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.