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Farmland Water and Soil Protection: “Bloom -- Or Get Plowed Under?”

October 2, 2007

Columbus, OH – A popular farm program that helps farmers protect soil and water quality is at a make-or-break moment in Congressional Farm Bill proposals. The "Conservation Security Program" works with farmers to protect natural resources, by helping them control manure and pesticide runoff, maintain wildlife habitat, and prevent soil erosion. Ferd Hoefner, of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, says it's a smart investment that should not be "plowed under" as the Farm Bill is hammered out.

"The public gets a lot out of this program: Good food, which comes from good soil; and making sure that rivers and lakes, both in rural and urban America, are clean and not full of sediment and polluted runoff from farms."

A Senate Farm Bill plan would make the program available to farmers all over the nation; recent funding cuts have meant that it's currently available only in selected watersheds, including just one in Ohio this year. A House plan would cut funding further, and put the plan on the shelf until 2012. Instead, the House plan prioritizes more controversial crop subsidies. Hoefner says there's a smarter way to support farmers and protect natural resources at the same time.

"It's a good deal for the public, and certainly relative to production subsidies, which make up such a huge amount of the Farm Bill and provide little in the way of public benefits."

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - OH