House Starts Off Farm Bill Process

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Setting the stage for the next farm bill, the House Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee kicked off the 2018 farm bill process yesterday by reviewing 2014 farm bill conservation programs.

The subcommittee heard farmers, ranchers, and other witnesses sharing their perspectives on the effectiveness of past conservation policies.

The 2014 farm bill conservation title saved nearly $4 billion over ten years, with big cuts to programs.

Now, with a downtrending farm economy, some in congress want that back.

Top full committee Democrat Collin Peterson wants more spending on the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

He says cuts in programs like EQIP, CRP, CSP, and conservation easements only hamstring conservation goals, "Given what's going on around the country, I think it's time for us to figure out how to get back to 40 million acres of CRP in this farm bill. This increase will help improve water quality, address the decline wildlife populations that we've experienced in my region of the country. CRP as a big track, CRP worked."

Peterson admits the ag committee will face budget challenges and maybe pushback from some commodity groups. It is one of the many farm bill fights expected to come out in the next few months as agriculture lawmakers try to balance farm needs with budget concerns, along with those who benefit from the nutrition programs that form the bulk of the bill.