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 Scott Streater – E & E Publishing LLC – February 12, 2015
Federal partnerships with private landowners across the West have resulted in protecting millions of acres of greater sage grouse habitat, according to a new report that underscores the critical role ranchers play in ongoing efforts to save the imperiled bird. The report released today by the Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service shows that since 2010, NRCS has spent $296 million on programs partnering with ranchers and other private landowners that have resulted in restoring 4.4 million acres of sage grouse habitat. USDA also announced today that it plans to spend an additional $200 million over the next four years through conservation programs funded by the farm bill to expand restoration partnerships with working ranches and farms covering hundreds of thousands of acres across the grouse's 11-state Western range. For full story, click here.
By Janell Thomas – Farm Futures – February 2, 2015
The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers late Friday issued a memorandum of understanding to withdraw the Waters of the U.S. Interpretive Rule, which outlines which conservation activities provide farmers an exemption from Clean Water Act permitting. Congress requested that EPA and Army Corps withdraw the IR in its "Cromnibus" funding legislation, passed in December. Many farm groups opposed the Interpretive Rule, which offered 56 "normal farming and ranching" exemptions under the regulations of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. For full story, 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 Seewer – Seattle PI – January 18, 2015
Farmers in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana are being asked to be part of the solution in fixing the algae problem in Lake Erie. Federal officials on Friday outlined a program that will make $17.5 million available to farmers who take steps to reduce the pollutants that wash away from the fields and help the algae thrive. First, it's a voluntary program so farmers won't be forced to take part. And it only applies to those who have land in the western Lake Erie watershed, which is mostly made up of northwestern Ohio, southeastern Michigan and northeastern Indiana.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.