Commodity vs. Conservation Balance

Conservation programs are important, but they are not a substitute for a farm safety net.

Published: February 27, 2002
Updated: March 30, 2017

Conservation Programs Important, but No Substitute for Farm Safety Net

What is the Goal?

  • Due to severe and prolonged economic crisis, Congress has delivered market loss assistance each of the last four years.
  • This "ad hoc" approach has been vitally important, but farmers and creditors around the country never know how or when Congress will step in to help.
  • In order to provide a more consistent ‘safety net’ for the nation’s producers, funds were provided in the FY2002 budget resolution for farm bill enhancement.
  • Foreign governments are subsidizing their industry at rates far exceeding U.S. support levels.
  • U.S. producers face higher costs of production due to the safe and regulated manner in which commodities and livestock are produced.
  • Steps should be taken to modify farm policy and provide long-term viability to an industry subject to inherently volatile markets.

House Bill Makes Substantial Contribution to Conservation Title

  • The House Farm Bill as passed out of Committee devotes more than $16 billion over ten years to soil, water and wildlife programs.
  • This represents over a 75% increase in baseline spending for conservation efforts.

Conservation Programs’ Traditional Role Can Be Expanded

  • Conservation programs can be used to assist livestock producers in complying with new Combined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) and Animal Feeding Operations (AFO) regulations.
  • Many feel that agriculture can play a role in carbon sequestration as the debate on global warming continues.

The House Farm Bill provides resources toward these goals.

Keep Perspective - Farm Income Must Be Primary Focus

  • Farmers make their living annually from the land. It is in their best interest to observe environment-friendly practices. Providing cost-share assistance for land improvements and economic incentives for retiring marginal land has proven successful. Increasing funds and resources available to these time-tested programs is worthwhile.
  • However, traditional commodity programs must be strengthened to assist farmers as they compete in a growing global economy.
  • Without an adequate commodity title, Congress will be forced to continue addressing farm income needs annually on an ad hoc basis or risk losing America’s farm families that provide the majority of food and fiber.