Historic Farm Bill Conservation Pact Adopted by Senate Agriculture Committee with Overwhelming Support

Conservation Compliance Agreement Garners Widespread Praise, Links Conservation Requirements to Crop Insurance

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved an historic conservation pact this week, requiring conservation compliance for crop insurance to protect both the farmers and the natural resources that our nation’s farmers and ranchers will rely on for generations to come. Conservation and agriculture industry organizations worked together to create the landmark pact. The agreement, adopted as part of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, which passed the Committee with strong bipartisan support on a 15-5 vote Tuesday, represents a major step forward in ensuring the vitality of our nation’s natural resources and reaffirming support for a robust and thriving agriculture industry. The bill has been officially introduced on the Senate floor (S.954).

“This is an example of something that’s all too rare in Washington these days: People on both sides of this very difficult issue sat down together, put it all on the table, and figured out a way to make this policy work to protect our soil and water resources for generations to come,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Committee. “This agreement represents a significant step toward creating a stronger agricultural sector, creating jobs and allowing farmers to be the best stewards of their land.”

A host of farm and conservation groups have praised the Committee’s adoption of the new agreement:

“We have been a strong advocate for an effective crop and natural resource safety net in the 2013 Farm Bill. The conservation compliance agreement, made possible by the leadership of Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran, ensures at a policy level the thoughtful implementation of compliance that balances the need for natural resource conservation with a robust agriculture economy.”
- National Association of Conservation Districts President Earl Garber

“We believe that the bipartisan compromise to oppose means testing, payment limitations or premium subsidy reductions for the crop insurance program and to formalize a tie between crop insurance and conservation compliance helped set the tone of cooperation for this bill moving forward. We greatly appreciate the help of Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran in moving this historic agreement forward.”
- American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman

“We applaud the Senate Agriculture Committee for its work on the 2013 Farm Bill and in particular the language that re-links conservation compliance to crop insurance premium assistance. This is a common sense, balanced approach that shows a mutual commitment to both conservation stewardship and to maintaining the long-term economic viability of America's farmers and ranchers."
- American Farmland Trust President Jon Scholl

“We appreciate recognition by the Senate Ag Committee of the significant deliberations by our coalition to develop a common sense, workable approach to the issues of conservation and crop insurance. NCGA applauds the Committee for passing a bill incorporating provisions of this compromise which will help farmers avoid the onerous means testing, payment limitations and premium subsidy reductions previously proposed for crop insurance, our number one farm bill priority.”
- National Corn Growers Association Chairman Garry Niemeyer

“Re-coupling conservation compliance to crop insurance has been a top priority for Ducks Unlimited and we are extremely appreciative that, under the leadership of Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran, the Senate Agriculture Committee has taken the first big step by including it in their five-year farm bill. Most importantly, the agriculture and conservation communities have nurtured a working partnership grounded in our mutual goal of a comprehensive farm bill. I expect to maintain and grow our collaboration in the long-term on behalf of our country’s farmers, ranchers, wildlife and all Americans.”
- Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall

"The Senate Agriculture Committee should be commended for its commitment and determination to write and pass a Farm Bill that saves taxpayers money and provides confidence to farmers and their lenders as they make business decisions for upcoming growing seasons. The ability of the Committee to come together and forge this bipartisan bill underscores the fact that the Farm Bill is important to all sectors of our nation and economy.”
- American Association of Crop Insurers and Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau

“We are very pleased that the agreement that would re-link conservation compliance and crop insurance was included in the bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee. The united front of agriculture and conservation groups will help to ensure that our producers benefit from the certainty of a five-year farm bill while they are incentivized to protect our nation’s natural resources.”
- National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson

“Conservation compliance has been a critically important policy, helping us conserve fish and wildlife habitat through a partnership between farmers and taxpayers. State fish and wildlife agencies applaud the historic steps taken today to strengthen conservation compliance by linking it to crop insurance subsidies, and look forward to working with members of Congress and our partners in the conservation and agriculture communities to see these policies become law.”
- Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Executive Director Ron Regan

“Today, the Senate Agriculture Committee, conservationists, and our colleagues in the agricultural collectively community mapped the path to advance protections for wildlife habitats on working lands, while addressing the needs of those who work the land.”
- National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Larry Schweiger

“The agreement reached by conservation and agricultural groups on conservation compliance was historic in its broad and unique base of support; today that support was reaffirmed by a bipartisan majority of the United States Senate Agriculture Committee, who saw both the wisdom and the workability of this impressive consensus.”
- Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership President and CEO Whit Fosburgh

“In addition to the Conservation and Forestry titles, we also support an amendment to reattach conservation compliance requirements to the Federal Crop Insurance program. Conservation compliance is the fundamental conservation provision of the Farm Bill, and as crop insurance becomes a more prominent means for addressing risks inherent in agricultural operations, the link between federal assistance and responsible conservation practices is very important. The Nature Conservancy is a proud signatory to the agreement between agriculture and conservation groups on this issue.”

- The Nature Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek