To the Editor:
On Jan. 1, Congress passed the fiscal cliff legislation that included a nine-month extension of the farm bill that slashes investment in the future of family farms, ranches and small town America.
However, the fiscal cliff farm bill extension failed to fix a mistake included in spending legislation back in the beginning of October that prevented USDA from conducting a 2013 farmer and rancher sign-up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
The CSP rewards farmers, ranchers and foresters for existing conservation on working lands as well as for the adoption of additional conservation measures that provide environmental benefits on and beyond the farm or ranch. CSP provides incentives for practices that preserve clean water, promote better soil management, improve habitat and energy efficiency, and provide other natural resource benefits.
Unfortunately, since the farm bill extension included in the fiscal cliff bill failed to address the funding problem, the 2013 CSP sign-up must await action later this year, meaning thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country who were considering applying for CSP got kicked to the curb.
While the Center for Rural Affairs works with Congress to fix their mistake with the program, we encourage producers to contact our Helpline — call (402) 687-2100 and ask for the Farm Bill Helpline — to find out whether they have been impacted by the failure to fix this problem and fund other conservation programs in the fiscal cliff farm bill extension and join us in advocating for the program.
Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Neb.
To the Editor: