Should we be celebrating the new Farm Bill?

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By Bret Amundson

It took over 2 years to get it done, but we finally have a Farm Bill.  It should be signed by the President by tomorrow.   How happy are we?  I guess we should be glad that we’ve finally got one and some changes were made.  I asked Dave Nomsen, Vice President of Government Relations, if we should be celebrating?

“You know, that’s a great question.  In all honesty, as good as it feels to get the Farm Bill done, we can’t really answer that question until we look back on the Farm Bill and how much of it we actually got in ground with the landowners and farmers.  Let’s measure it based on the acres we get in ground for conservation and other factors like that.”

The Conservation Reserve Program did get a reduction in acreage, from 32 million to 24 million, but it makes the acreage enrolled much more economically viable.

“That has been one of the biggest reasons we’ve lost acres the last few years-the rental rates haven’t been high enough,” Nomsen commented.  “So hopefully we’re gonna have much stronger rental rates than what we’ve seen in the recent past.”

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A new crop insurance provision, $40 million towards voluntary public access acreage, 1 billion towards a new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and consolidates 23 programs into 13.  Designed to make things simpler and cut costs.

The benefits could come soon, too.

“One of the side benefits of having the long, lengthy delays, is that from the implementation side of the things at the USDA, a lot of the programs are almost ready to go.  So we’re going to see a shortened period where they normally have to all this legal work,” Nomsen added.

What does the new Farm Bill mean for farmers?

“I would encourage all the farmers to take a serious look at the conservation title.  For the first time in history, the conservation title has more money in it than the commodity title,” Nomsen explained.  “In my view, with all the programs that we have, there is an opportunity for conservation on every farm and every ranch out there.”

What about the hunters?

“A lot of these programs are going to do good things for natural resources and wildlife.  We’ve got some that also provide public access.”

Overall, the new Farm Bill is a definite step in the right direction for both hunters and farmers.  You can’t deny the hunter for wanting more conservation and the farmer for wanting to maximize his profits and work his land as he sees fit.  In the long run, more habitat is going to benefit hunters, farmers and everyone else alike, as it will bringing cleaner air, cleaner water and a better balance on the landscape.

Nomsen also explains how crop insurance will work, why the Sodsaver might be the most important part of the bill and how the 1 billion will get allocated in this week’s MNSJ Radio Show.  Find a station and time to listen by clicking here.


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