AGRIBUSINESS: Conservation Compliance In New Farm Bill

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One provision in the conservation title of the new Farm Bill re-couples federal crop insurance with conservation compliance, but only on highly erodible ground or wetlands.

The relinking was strongly supported on the Senate side with fierce opposition from House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas of Oklahoma.

Re-coupling conservation compliance with crop insurance reverses a decision made in the mid-1990s.  According to the former USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins, the approach to farm policy was very different at the time.

“Crop insurance was just evolving in the mid-1990s.  And so Congress got concerned that they were going to blunt the growth of the industry,” Collins said.

“At that time, we were spending so much money on ad hoc disaster programs that Congress wanted participation in the program and they didn’t want to do anything to discourage participation in the program,” Collins said.

Conservation compliance was repealed in 1996, according to Collins.