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Rural Advocates: Farm Bill Extension Bad for Conservation

Photo: Traci Bruckner
Photo: Traci Bruckner
January 16, 2013

LYONS, Neb. - In the drama surrounding the "fiscal cliff" legislation, a last-second deal was cut to extend the previous farm bill for another nine months.

A different version of the extension was negotiated by the House and Senate agriculture committees, and Tracy Bruckner, assistant director of the Rural Policy Program at the Center for Rural Affairs, says that version would have addressed the critical issue of extending the Conservation Stewardship Program - but it was set aside.

"Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and so it's really a disaster, this bill that got attached to the 'fiscal cliff' legislation, and it says that beginning farmers, rural communities and conservation can be left to twist in the wind."

Bruckner says the Center for Rural Affairs has established a hotline farmers and ranchers can call to get the latest information and to get involved. The phone number is 402-687-2100, and Bruckner says it's important for those enrolled or trying to get enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program to call.

"We'd like to talk to them about the program, get them engaged in the debate moving forward, because if these voices don't come forward, we're going to continue to get the status quo. So, really, we need farmers and ranchers who care about conservation to really make sure that they're participating in this debate."

Bruckner says the failure of Congress to act on a new farm bill instead of doing this last-minute quick fix sends a completely wrong message.

"In the larger context of some of the extreme weather conditions we're seeing, conservation is becoming critically important for farmers and ranchers, and so this is an important time to not be not funding conservation. It's an important time to be putting more money into conservation."

Programs left out of the last-minute farm bill extension, Bruckner says, include proven strategies to create rural jobs and initiatives to foster a new generation of family farmers and ranchers.

More information about the hotline and the Conservation Stewardship Program is online at

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI