Washington, D.C., May 23, 2007—“The overall direction that the House Agriculture Committee is taking in writing the 2007 Farm Bill is positive,” said Ralph Grossi, President of American Farmland Trust, reacting to the House Agriculture Subcommittee’s mark-up of the conservation, credit, research and energy title of the 2007 Farm Bill, and noting their intention to work in a bipartisan and inclusive manner. “However, we are disappointed that there is simply not enough money dedicated to conservation programs, especially the Conservation Security Program (CSP), to reward farmers for stewardship.”
American Farmland Trust (AFT) has been leading a three-year campaign to strengthen the future of U.S. agriculture—and to expand the benefits to the public by transforming U.S. farm policy. “In discussions with farmers and ranchers, agriculture leaders and policy experts across the country, there were some obvious findings,” says Grossi. “Most farmers and ranchers don’t benefit from current policies, and current conservation policies are inadequate for those farmers they are intended to support; farmers want to do more for our environment and natural resources; too many people in this country don’t have access to healthy and nutritious food; and commodity subsidies are not helping our rural communities prosper.”
The same farmers and ranchers have helped AFT develop proposals and ideas to fix current policies that they believe will help them prosper and meet the demands of a rapidly changing global marketplace. “Since last year, AFT has been advocating for new policies based on three pillars: a better safety net for farmers, increased access to new market opportunities, and conservation programs,” Grossi continued. “The first two will be addressed in other subcommittees, but we need to work with the conservation subcommittee to get the third pillar, the conservation programs right.”
“Many great conservation programs were authorized under the 2002 Farm Bill, but we’ve only realized small victories because of a consistent lack of funding for these programs,” Grossi added. “All of us in the agriculture and conservation community recognize the extremely difficult budget conditions under which the House and Senate Agriculture committees are working. We also have all heard from producers and the public that increased funding for conservation programs is a priority. I’m certain we all want to work to achieve the maximum funding for all conservation programs in this title, and at the same time improve the programs.”
“In over 25 years with AFT, I have never met a farmer or rancher who was not interested in stewardship,” Grossi said. “The challenge is going to be for the House Agriculture Committee to not let the farmers and ranchers down, because the societal cost is much greater. Congress must find a way to reward farmers and ranchers for their stewardship of our nation’s most strategic asset.”
American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranch land, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and supporting a sustainable future for farms. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.
AFT’s national office is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.