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Clock Ticking on Conservation Deadline

April 30, 2008

Lyons, NE – The clock is ticking on a popular program that rewards farmers who take special care to protect their land and water. Traci Bruckner with the Center for Rural Affairs says the deadline to sign up for the Conservation Security Program is two weeks from Friday. She says the program works, and its impact is felt well beyond the back 40.

"It rewards those who do things to protect the air, soil, water and wildlife habitat. So, it invites benefits that reach far beyond the farmer or rancher who may be doing those things, because that farm is providing benefits to society as a whole."

Bruckner says the program has an impact well beyond Minnesota farmland.

"It's really important to focus policy in the direction of helping farmers and ranchers figure out how they can protect the environment and the natural resources, so that we preserve those for future generations. Those are benefits that reach people in Minneapolis and people in rural communities, too. So, these are important things for policy to focus on."

She says the program encourages farmers to be good stewards of the land, and rewards them for their efforts.

Bruckner says it has shown its value and should be strengthened in the new five-year farm bill now being written in Congress.

"It's important for it to be funded and expanded, because it's been on such a limited basis so far that it hasn't really provided all the economic incentive that it should to the farmers and ranchers who are out there doing conservation. There are a lot that just haven't been able to qualify yet because they haven't been in the right watershed where the program is available."

Bruckner says she hopes the new farm bill will allow farmers statewide to apply on a competitive basis, regardless of whether they're in the right watershed.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN