Dear Sen. Roberts: we write to you with concerns about the future of conservation programs in the farm bill

The Center for Rural Affairs recently led an effort to gather farmers in support of conservation programs in the farm bill. On May 7, this letter was sent to Sen. Pat Roberts (KS) who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.


The Honorable Pat Roberts 
109 Hart Senate Office Building 
Washington, DC 20510-1605 

Dear Chairman Roberts, 

As farmers and ranchers in Kansas, we write to you with concerns about the future of conservation programs authorized in Title II of the Farm Bill. The recent version of this omnibus legislation that came out of the House Agriculture Committee strikes a serious blow to working lands conservation programs. First, it essentially would eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program. The bill also proposed to significantly lower the funding available for working lands programs, which additionally includes the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), by nearly $5 billion over 10 years. We are asking that the Senate Agriculture Committee maintain and improve the structure and funding of the working lands conservation programs as authorized in 2014. 

We know from experience that conservation practices reduce on-farm risk and enhance profitability. Measures such as planting cover crops, engaging in no-till, and rotational grazing can help to build soil health, lessen disease pressure, and improve the resiliency of rangeland. In turn, conservation practices pass on benefits to the wider community. For example, protecting water quality, reducing nutrient loss, and addressing the risks of wildfires help to ensure a safe, secure, and cost-effective food system. 

One of the major barriers that farmers and ranchers face in adopting additional conservation practices and technologies is that it includes risk: the financial risk of investment, and also the risk of taking on a new practice with a learning curve. Therefore, incentives for innovation and investment are vital to build and maintain a resilient agriculture – particularly in the face of volatile weather, adapting pests, and increased demand for food. 

Voluntary working lands programs offer the potential to create long-term benefits for society and farmers and ranchers without increasing burdensome and administratively expensive regulations. In the long run, these public working land investments are needed to save taxpayers money by potentially lowering disaster and insurance payments. 

Strong support for conservation, especially working lands programs, not only improves agriculture, benefits taxpayers, and protects resources, but also it is vital for our long-term national security. Around the world, in areas where land is degraded and food is scarce, conflicts and crises arise. Furthermore, protecting the future productivity and health of our soil, water, and air strengthens the future of a healthy and well-fed America. 

Thank you so much for your service and leadership in the Senate Agriculture Committee. We are confident you and your committee members will protect the funding and programs in the Conservation Title of the Farm Bill especially the working lands programs like CSP and EQIP. 

Respectfully,

Allen Roth
Ellis County

Alan Williams
Scott County

Bill Simshauser
Kearny County

Brigham Stewart
Washington County

Brit Hayes
Hodgeman County

C. Brian Hastings
Hodgeman County

Cameron Peirce
Reno County 

Chad Basinger 
Reno County 

C.J. Blew
Reno County 

Colby Harner 
Sugar Creek Ranch 
Reno County 

Dale and Nancy Kirkham 
Greenwood County 

Darrin Unruh 
Reno County 

Derek Zongker 
Reno County 

Don Hineman 
Lane County

Donn Teske
Pottawatomie County

Ed Reznicek and Mary Fund
Nemaha County

Erika Jaeger
4F Farms, Inc.
Kearny County

Felix Revello
Pawnee County

Forrest and Marlene Peters
Phillips County

Fred and Connie Neufeld
McPherson County

Gene Albers
Kingman County 

James Funke and Christine Terrill
Reno County 

Jerry Clasen 
Reno County 

Jim and Lisa French 
Reno County 

Kendall Hodgson 
Rice County 

Larry Hickman 
Russell County 

Laura and Doug Fortmeyer
Jubilee Farm
Brown County

Luke Jaeger
Trifecta Farms, Inc.
Sherman County

Marion Krehbiel
Reno County

Matthew Jaeger
Trifecta Farms
Sherman County

Michael and Melinda Moeder
Logan and Thomas Counties

Myron Schmidt
Gray County

Ron Brown
Cheyenne County 

Sam Sanders 
Reno County 

Ted Worl 
Rice County 

Titus Jaeger 
Jaeger Family Farms, Inc. 
Kearny County 

Todd Miller 
Harper County

Tom Holmquist 
Saline County 

Travis Groff
Ellis County 

Troy Schroeder
Barton County