Washington, D.C., July 11, 2012 —American Farmland Trust (AFT) welcomed the House Agriculture Committee 2012 farm bill mark-up that was convened this morning and congratulates Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) for their progress in crafting a farm bill.
AFT President Jon Scholl strongly urged Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring the finished committee bill to the floor expeditiously.
“We are pleased with the progress the House Agriculture Committee has made on the 2012 farm bill and appreciate the leadership of Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson in moving the process forward,” said AFT President Jon Scholl. “It is critical that the House complete action on the farm bill as soon as possible so that a final House-Senate compromise bill can be sent to the President to be signed into law.”
On a program level, AFT is particularly pleased that the new streamlined Agriculture Land Easement activity is built on the principles AFT recommended: keep working lands in agricultural production, rely on the use of permanent easements and work through partnerships at the local level.
Scholl noted that the Chairman’s mark did not contain a conservation compliance provision linked to crop insurance. “The Senate added a conservation compliance provision via an amendment by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) during consideration of the farm bill. This is a commonsense way to continue to protect our most vulnerable lands as the farm safety net evolves to be based more on subsidized crop insurance. We urge the House to follow suit,” said Scholl.
According to a recent survey of farmers conducted across 13 states by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies, heartland farmers believe by a nearly two-to-one margin that farmers should be required to meet some environmental standards in order to receive federal benefits such as crop insurance. The survey found that 61 percent of farmers agree with linking federal subsidies, including crop insurance, to environmental standards.
Other insights provided by the survey results include:
- Eighty-six percent of farmers say the level of conservation funding should be maintained or increased.
- Nearly 75 percent of farmers say that conservation programs help their bottom line.
- “This survey illustrates that farmers understand the importance of conservation in maintaining the productivity and viability of American agriculture in an increasingly global marketplace,” said Scholl. He urged Congress to hold the line on funding for conservation programs.
“We recognize that this farm bill faces fiscal constraints, and certainly conservation programs have not been immune to deficit reduction efforts. The proposed cuts will be difficult to absorb. It is absolutely critical for the long term productivity of American agriculture that Congress hold the line on funding for conservation provided in the Senate bill and the House Agriculture Committee’s draft,” Scholl said.
“We look forward to working with Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson as they work to complete action on this important piece of legislation. It affects the food we eat, the farmers and ranchers that grow and raise our food, the land and water on which it is grown, many sectors of our economy and the daily life of virtually every American for the next ten years,” said Scholl.