League Scores a Win with Senate Farm Bill (6/21/12)
Jun 21, 2012 Posted by Dawn Merritt
By Scott Kovarovics, IWLA Conservation Director
It’s been a busy and somewhat chaotic week on Capitol Hill as the U.S. Senate debated and passed a 2012 Farm Bill.
The League has been working for more than a year to lay the groundwork a new Farm Bill that invests in conservation and ensures taxpayers receive some basic conservation benefits for the support they provide farmers. It’s great to report we achieved a major victory with today’s Farm Bill vote. The full Senate voted to restore the connection between conservation compliance and crop insurance premium subsidies – a simple move that will in fact help conserve fish and wildlife, protect drinking water supplies, and provide flood protection across the country.
As the week began, it was unclear whether the Senate would actually debate the Farm Bill. Amendments, many having nothing at all to do with agriculture (including one amendment attempting to slash Clean Water Act protections for streams and wetlands), had been piled onto the bill. Late Monday, Senate leaders announced an agreement to consider 73 of these amendments in rapid-fire succession, and the debate and votes went on nearly nonstop Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday night, the Senators voted 52 to 47 for an amendment by Senator Chambliss (GA) on crop insurance and conservation compliance. The League strongly backed this amendment, and its success reflects the hard work and support of conservation, environmental, sustainable agriculture, and taxpayer groups, including the League and our members around the country.
Today, the Senate wrapped up debate and passed the Farm Bill. Everyone who worked so hard on this legislation deserves to relax – at least for a day or two. Then we’ll need to turn our attention to the House of Representatives. The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to meet July 11 to debate its version of the Farm Bill. The Senate vote on conservation compliance gives us some momentum, and we’ll need it – opposition to re-linking conservation compliance with crop insurance premium subsidies is even stronger in the House.
With gridlock in Washington slowing progress on so many important issues, it’s encouraging to see bi-partisan support for common-sense conservation provisions in the Farm Bill. Our thanks to all the League members and supporters who weighed in on this issue and helped us move one step closer to the goal line.