Unapologetically Rural: Advocacy

With your support, we continue to fight for policy supporting family farms, ranches, and small towns. This story from our Annual Report tells you more.

Farmers who use cover crops and crop rotations to build soil and protect water quality should be supported through public policy. Take Randy Rink, who farms in northeast Nebraska (left above). Randy hosted a farm tour for Alan Feyerherm, Chief of Staff for Nebraska Representative Jeff Fortenberry. He showed Alan how the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps protect water quality and enrich the soil on his farm.

The Conservation Stewardship Program is the largest federal conservation program, covering more working farm and ranchland than any other program. We worked with allies like former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and coalition partners to create this landmark program. Nearly 70 million acres have been enrolled in the last 5 years.

Senator Harkin says the program’s intention was always to “compensate farmers and ranchers for how well they protect soil, water, and wildlife on their land through adopting and maintaining sound conservation practices.” The program focuses on the entire farm or ranch, supporting practices like Randy’s cover crops and extended crop rotations.

You helped win this program. But our work is not done. In December, Congress cut funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program. They did this knowing twice as many farmers and ranchers are eligible to participate as the funding they made available. We’ll need your help to protect conservation funding in 2015.

Highlights of 2014

The new farm bill attached conservation compliance to crop insurance. A scaled-back sodsaver in 6 Midwest states will mean crop insurance premiums won’t underwrite plowing under native grassland.

In Nebraska, we beat back a bill to eliminate the ban on packer ownership of livestock. Expect it to resurface in 2015 and be ready to act.

We defeated bills to change Nebraska taxes and reduce resources for education and other public services.

10 major studies showed how policy should work for rural residents and towns. We tackled topics like tax policy, nutrition programs, healthcare, and food systems.

You can view more of the Center's 2014 annual report here


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