Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee recently approved its version of the 2012 Farm Bill.
In todayís partisan climate where everything seems to turn into a political issue, the committee deserves high accolades for its swift, bipartisan passage of a common-sense plan that protects American agriculture, while at the same time reducing our nationís debt by an estimated $23 billion. And while the Commodity Title gets most of the attention in the news, I would argue that the Conservation Title is just as important, if not more so. If we donít protect and preserve our nationís natural resources, we wonít have any land on which to farm in the future.
Whether youíre involved in agriculture or not, this is something that matters to all of us Ė†the benefits of a strong Conservation Title benefit everyone. After all, we all eat, and we all need clean air and water. And with the worldís population on the rise, the sustainability of our food supply has never been more critical.
The Senate bill includes a strong Conservation Title that streamlines and consolidates programs for increased efficiency and ease-of-use for producers, while maintaining critical funding for valuable technical assistance helping provide adequate boots on the ground to implement conservation where it counts.
While the bill would cut $6 billion in conservation program funding, all of us must be prepared to make sacrifices in the current economic climate. However, additional cuts beyond this amount could put the viability of these programs at risk.
Producers in South Carolina and across the country must already do more with less, and conservation is a tool that is available to every producer. Farm Bill conservation programs play a key role in supporting clean air and water, and productive soils, and support our nationís long-term economic and food security.
Itís better to make a long-term investment in our natural resources today, than to be forced to pay escalated costs for repair in the future.
Itís time for Congress to pass a Farm Bill before itís too late.
Chairman, Berkeley Conservation District