Conservation Compliance – A retrospective… and look ahead

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on March 4, 2012

News release: “New research paper finds that most farmers support the long-standing conservation compact that has helped protect the rich soil and clean water that sustain food, farming and public health. Conservation Compliance: A Retrospective…and Look Ahead by conservationist Max Schnepf concludes through a comprehensive review of public opinion polls that the farming community has consistently supported the historic deal between taxpayers and farmers that was struck in the 1985 farm bill. Under it, growers agreed to keep soil from washing away and chemicals out of waterways in return for generous taxpayer support. Seven polls taken in the last 30 years show that a solid majority of farmers believe that bargain is a fair one. “The conservation compact was a godsend for agricultural and conservation groups and farmers,” Schnepf writes. “In the 10 years following the 1985 farm bill, farmers did more to curb soil erosion than at any time since the infamous Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.” Schnepf notes that Environmental Working Group’s 2011 report, Losing Ground, found that high prices, intense competition for farmland leases and ethanol mandates have put unprecedented pressure on land and water. As a result, the historic gains in soil conservation the compact achieved are being lost…EWG released a series of web-based ads and Schnepf’s paper ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled hearing of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, which will focus on Strengthening Conservation Through the 2012 Farm Bill.”

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