Staff Spotlight: Kalee Olson talks conservation, farm bill in Washington, D.C.

Farm and Food

With feedback from agricultural producers in hand, Center for Rural Affairs Policy Associate Kalee Olson traveled to Washington, D.C., this fall as part of the 2022 National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) Farmer Fly-in.

The trip came as Congress considers reauthorization of the farm bill, which is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2023. The fly-in brought together a coalition to talk with members of Congress about a range of issues.

As part of the Center’s grassroots work with producers in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, and Minnesota, Kalee met with U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer and staff of U.S. Reps. Don Bacon and Mike Flood about the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

“This was a good opportunity to meet with lawmakers and share why CSP is important to our constituents,” Kalee said. “Having that face-to-face time was valuable.
We want it to be a familiar topic when it’s brought up during farm bill discussions.”

The Center’s farm bill platform outlines opportunities for improvement within working lands conservation, among other U.S. Department of Agriculture programs.
The Center is making recommendations to improve CSP through support for soil testing and additional enhancements.

“Producers currently or previously enrolled in CSP have told us that soil testing data is important in making management decisions in their operations,” Kalee said. “However, simply gathering soil tests occasionally, or even regularly, without interpretation assistance is not useful.”

Kalee said representing the Center in Washington and speaking on behalf of producers was a valuable experience.

“It was empowering to be part of a group representing different geographic areas coming together to support CSP,” she said.