On March 15th Iowa’s Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as well as Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) introduced the Give our Resources the Opportunity to Work, or GROW, Act (S. 2557). Highlights of the the bill includes refocusing conservation programs on marginal lands, greater access for young farmers and ranches, and financial incentives for cover crop utilization.
A press announcement from U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) describes the expected benefits of this bill from its four authors, two Republicans and two Democrats.
This bipartisan legislation refocuses conservation spending on marginal cropland to benefit soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat, while protecting rural economies and ensuring greater farmland access for beginning young farmers and ranchers.
“As I travel across Iowa each year, I hear concerns from producers about how the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has strayed from its congressional intent of targeting and removing environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production,” said Senator Ernst.
“This bipartisan bill is good for farmers, it’s good for taxpayers, and it’s good for water quality and the environment,” said Senator Brown.
“Conservation of America’s natural resources is critical for successful farming operations, increased agricultural productivity and quality food and energy production,” said Senator Grassley.
“The next Farm Bill must focus our limited conservation dollars on the most environmentally sensitive lands, help farmers and ranchers achieve better soil health and water quality and improve access to land and USDA resources for young and beginning farmers,” said Senator Casey. “
AgWeb highlighted key elements of this provision in their piece titled, “GROW Act Designed to Strengthen Conservation Programs”.
The act would maintain funding and acreage levels for the farm bill’s three largest conservation programs: the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
“The GROW Act demonstrates clear support for our nation’s farmers to strengthen conservation efforts across the landscape,” said Anna Johnson, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “At a time when building healthy soils and protecting water quality are of utmost importance, any cuts to these conservation programs would weaken farmers’ ability to preserve these important natural resources.”
A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives titled, Strengthening Our Investment in Land (SOIL) Stewardship Act of 2018 (H.R. 5188), by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN).
AgDaily reported on this development as well specifically highlighting the cover crop financial incentive.
Also quoting Anna Johnson with the Center for Rural Affairs
“Some of the exciting proposals in the bill are that it incentivizes cover crops under CSP, increases set-aside funds for conservation buffers within continuous CRP, and maintains an emphasis on water quality under EQIP in support of farmers who steward natural resources for future generations,”
The financial incentive for cover crop may be just what the authors of an Iowa State University study had in mind when they released their analysis about widespread cover crop adoption.
Image Courtesy AgDaily