As Congress inches toward resolution of a five-year farm bill, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Board voted to oppose conservation compliance linked to crop insurance. House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) welcomed the support as some environmental groups have advocated linking the programs in the Farm Bill.

"Conservation compliance measures tied to crop insurance would be a misguided and redundant regulatory burden imposed on farmers and their property rights,” Lucas wrote in a statement this week. “I am philosophically opposed to this linkage and applaud AFBF's decision to support this position. “

"Conservation compliance is already the law of the land,” Lucas adds. He says all farmers who receive assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) commodity, conservation, and credit programs are required to protect our nation's wetlands and environmentally-sensitive croplands. “I am a firm believer in these conservation compliance standards, as well as voluntary, incentive-based conservation practices. And, I share the concerns of AFBF regarding the inconsistency with which conservation compliance provisions could be implemented on a state-by-state and county-by-county basis.”

Lucas points out that crop insurance is not a traditional benefit to producers. A grower must purchase a crop insurance policy and suffer a verifiable loss, sometimes up to 50 percent of a crop before collecting a payment. He says tying conservation compliance to crop insurance would create another layer of bureaucratic, red tape potentially endangering a farmer's livelihood.

For more, read a Stu Ellis commentary titled “Should conservation compliance be linked to crop insurance” on Drovers/CattleNetwork.