27 Iowa farmers sign farm bill letter

Twenty-seven Iowa farmers, in support of conservation and crop insurance practices in the 2018 farm bill, signed and sent a letter to Iowa Congressional Representatives in October. Would you like to get involved in advocating for change in the farm bill? Reach out to Anna today at 515.215.1294, or annaj@cfra.org.

Oct. 9, 2017

Dear Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, and Reps. Steve King, Dave Loebsack, David Young, and Rod Blum,

As farmers in Iowa, we write to you with concerns about the future of conservation in our state. Conservation practices, such as planting cover crops, have been enormously beneficial for our operations. We write to share ideas with you about how to further encourage farmers to practice conservation practices in Iowa, and ask that you please take these suggestions into consideration during your deliberations about the farm bill.

First, we have seen conservation practices can actually work to reduce on-farm risk. Measures such as planting cover crops, engaging in no-till, and planting a diverse crop rotation can help build soil health, which, in turn, can both encourage resilience to drought and reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff. But, although these practices can help manage on-farm risk, and could potentially reduce our crop insurance costs and claims in the long run, crop insurance policies provide disincentives to practice conservation.

We believe crop insurance should work hand in hand with conservation policy. Specifically, we believe that farmers who develop strong conservation plans and implement improvements should be eligible for higher levels of premium subsidy than those who do not. This also would benefit taxpayers by offering them assurance that the dollars spent on crop insurance premium subsidies are investments in making our land more resilient and productive for future generations. We ask that, in the upcoming farm bill, you create an incentive under the crop insurance program to offer farmers higher premium subsidies for practicing conservation.

Another change in the next farm bill that would encourage conservation is to remove barriers within crop insurance policies to planting cover crops. Currently, in order to continue to qualify for crop insurance while still planting cover crops, farmers must follow special rules and terminate their cover crops on a particular timeline. These extra regulations serve as a disincentive to plant cover crops. We ask that the upcoming farm bill require crop insurance companies to treat all conservation practices recognized by the Natural Resource Conservation Service as “good farming practices” under crop insurance regulations.

Finally, we ask that you protect existing conservation programs under the Natural Resource Conservation Service, particularly working lands conservation programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. These programs provide important support for farmers who are interested in incorporating conservation practices into their operations but need extra support in order to afford it.

As Iowa farmers, we believe these ideas are good for farmers, good for Iowa, good for our rural economies, and good for our soil and water. Please provide strong support for conservation in the upcoming farm bill work. Thank you for your consideration.

Signed,

Nathan Anderson, Cherokee County

Kent Bennis, Clinton County

Charles Bieber, Allamakee County

Tim Blair, Van Buren County

Jerry Depew, Pocahontas County

Troy Deutmeyer, Delaware County

Kipp Fehr, Palo Alto County

Gary Fisher, Humboldt County

Bo Fox, Monona County

William Furlong, Johnson County

Larry Haren, Hamilton County

Brian Heide, Calhoun County

Keith Kuper, Hardin County

Levi Lyle, Washington County

Dennis Nebendahl, Allamakee County

Mark Peterson, Montgomery County

Clark Porter, Black Hawk County

Jeff Pudenz, Sac and Greene counties

Daniel Rosmann, Shelby County

Loran Seiser, Hamilton County

Zack Smith, Winnebago County

Jerry Sobotka, Pocahontas County

Kim Steele-Blair, Van Buren County

Max Trimpe, Johnson County

David L. Williams, Page County

Ray Wilson, Cass County

Bill and Dotty Zales, Plymouth County