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Senators help beginning farmers through conservation reform

Photo by Ben Nuelle

AUDIO: Senator Joni Ernst, U.S. States Senate

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), along with fellow members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry recently introduced Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work, or GROW Act of 2018.

Senator Ernst says the bipartisan bill aims to refocus conservation spending on marginal cropland.

As I travel across Iowa each year, I hear concerns from a number of producers about how the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, has strayed away from its congressional intent (of) targeting and removing environmentally sensitive acres of land from Ag production,” Senator Ernst said. “Rather than targeting just those parcels, we’re seeing whole farms going into CRP. What we want to do is get back to the original, congressional intent and make sure we’re only enrolling those highly erodible lands.”

Senator Ernst says young, beginning farmers and ranchers will benefit from these farmable acres being put back into production.

“We hear from a lot of young and beginning farmers because they struggle to find acres to farm. We want to keep young families engaged in farming. If they can’t find those acres, they’re going to look for other ways to sustain their families – seeking employment maybe outside of their rural communities, in larger city areas,” Senator Ernst said.

Senator Ernst adds the Grow Act of 2018 will also revise and strengthen the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

“We are promoting water quality and conservation activities. A lot of our young farmers are great at that. They are educated on protecting and keeping our water, land and air clean,” Senator Ernst said. “The other benefit, as we’re revamping these programs, is we have expanding resources that we are able to use on these conservation programs.”

Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) joined Senator Joni Ernst in introducing this legislation.