In testimony today, Wythe Willey, cattle rancher from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and President Elect of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, advised lawmakers that a strong and well-funded conservation title in the 2002 farm bill is essential for economic viability in the industry; adequate resource conservation and compliance with environmental benefits demanded from American agriculture.

"The 2002 farm bill must recognize the new demands being placed on livestock producers and make a major, new commitment to providing conservation cost share and incentive payments assistance in the context of voluntary, incentive-based programs," Willey said.

The Farm Bill determines the amount of support for agricultural industry programs and is critically important to livestock producers. Funds for producers to conserve and manage their lands have steadily declined since 1985 and, in his statement, Willey urged the committee to reverse this trend.

"Preserving the land for future generations is a primary goal for producers," said Willey, "but livestock producers need economic resources to comply with current environmental regulations while staying economically viable."

Projected to produce over $100 billion in receipts in the next year, livestock production consistently averages 50 percent or more of total agricultural receipts.