Congress is about to impose a new conservation fee on farmers and ranchers who volunteer to help the environment as part of the Senate-House budget agreement, according to Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of American Farmland Trust.
AFT today said it will oppose a provision in the agreement authorizing the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to charge farmers up to $150 to help them prepare farm conservation plans.
"Reducing nutrients from farm runoff costs almost 60 percent less than the same reduction from a sewage treatment plant," said McElwaine. "We should be rewarding farmers who voluntarily put conservation plans in place. Instead we're going to charge them."
"Conservation plans are a fundamental first step farmers take to reduce erosion and keep sediment and nutrients from running off their land. Without this plan, those reductions won't take place and instead taxpayers will have to pay to upgrade local water and sewer systems.
"Taking this action at a time when it appears Congressional negotiators have failed to come to agreement on a new Farm Bill is extremely disappointing. Many critical federal farm programs ended on September 30 when the last Farm Bill expired and thousands of family farmers and ranchers are facing an uncertain future."
The American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.
For more information on the policies and programs of the American Farmland Trust, visit www.farmland.org, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanFarmland or Twitter www.twitter.com/farmland.