Matt Wagner's Local View column regarding the farm bill's conservation legacy ("Time to ensure conservation legacy," Nov. 24) was on target. And a conference committee is hammering out differences between the House-Senate farm bills right now.
Senate legislation reattaches conservation compliance to crop insurance subsidies and provides Sodsaver protections to native prairie nationally. For four years on newly broken land, the Senate prohibits farm program payments, reduces crop insurance subsidies and limits coverage to 65 percent of county average yield, disallowing yield substitution from high producing land to newly broken acres.
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), a farm bill conferee, and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) pushed for national Sodsaver protection. The House only applied it to the Prairie Pothole region, despite research showing that 54,000 Nebraska cropland acres were newly broken in 2012 -- the highest among all states, but outside the Pothole region.
The Senate's Sodsaver provision must win the day. Fortenberry has shown tireless leadership on this and many issues in this farm bill debate. We urge him to continue leading by pressing farm bill conferees to retain the Senate's national Sodsaver provision. The rest of the Nebraska delegation should follow his lead.
Traci Bruckner, senior policy associate for ag and conservation policy, Center for Rural Affairs