ASWM is keeping an eye on the development of the 2012 Farm Bill. On this page you can find updates on the Farm Bill as well as agricultural news in the context of wetlands and related issues. For Farm Bill 2012 resources on the web, click here.

By Madeline Fisher – American Society of Agronomy – December 15, 2014

Reading this summer’s media coverage of Lake Erie’s water quality woes, you might conclude that the lake’s harmful algal blooms (HABs) would stop if farmers simply fertilized less. But as anyone who knows the complexities of natural and managed systems can tell you, silver bullet solutions don’t exist—no matter how much government officials and the public may want them in the wake of Toledo’s drinking water crisis in early August. For one thing, the agricultural community is well aware that the load of dissolved reactive phosphorus—the main fuel for HABs—has been rising in Lake Erie since the late 1990s, even as total phosphorus has held steady or declined. What’s still not clear is exactly why. For full story, click here.

By John Carey – Conservation Magazine – September 9, 2013

When Katie Songer started cold-calling farmers in Wisconsin’s Pleasant Valley in 2008, she was the messenger for an uncomfortable truth. It wasn’t just that nutrient pollution from agriculture was choking rivers and lakes, causing harmful algal blooms and creating oxygen-free “dead” zones the size of small states along the nation’s coastline. The starker fact was that the more than $4 billion Congress had been typically spending each year on conservation in a series of Farm Bills was barely making a dent in the problem. In those federal programs, farmers receive payments for taking steps such as voluntarily restoring wetlands, setting aside land from cultivation, or adding buffer zones along streams. Since the early 1990s, farmers have restored more than 2 million acres of wetlands, put more than 31 million acres into conservation reserves (though often just temporarily), and built hundreds of thousands of miles of buffer strips. Yet toxic algal blooms have kept getting bigger and more frequent. For full article, click here.

Contact: Sylvia Rainford – USDA – November 5, 2014

As the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rapid implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill continues, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced proposed changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), one of USDA's largest conservation programs for working agricultural lands. "Farmers, ranchers, and non-industrial forestland owners enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program are our nation's conservation leaders as they go the extra mile to conserve our natural resources," Vilsack said. "This program continues to enable owners and managers of private lands to reach the next level of conservation." The rule also establishes the role of CSP as one of the programs to help the Regional Conservation Partnership Program accomplish its purposes. Vilsack said participants will be delivering more conservation benefits than ever under the revised program rules. USDA published an interim final rule containing the statutory changes to CSP in the Federal Register today. USDA is seeking public comment on the rule through Jan. 5, 2015. The public comments will be used to finalize the interim final rule. The CSP interim final rule can be viewed at and the Federal Register. For full news release, click here.

Manitoba Co-Operator – November 4, 2014

The discovery provides insight into the health of a forest. Nitrogen is an important nutrient for plant growth and productivity, but in streams, it can be a pollutant. In many places in the basin, however, farmers are noticing areas of fields not producing well in recent years. For full story, click here.

By April Van Buren – Great Lakes Echo – October 16, 2014

We were first introduced to drones by the United States military, which has been using them, controversially, it must be pointed out, for years in places like Afghanistan, northern Pakistan and Yemen. But like many other technologies that have been pioneered by the military, such as computers, duct tape and GPS, drones have numerous commercial applications. And one of the biggest sectors where drones could become a game-changer is in agriculture. For full story, click here.