Drought Conditions Add to Importance of Conservation to Farmers

US - American farmers value conservation programmes, particularly in times of ­­drought, and reject cutting conservation funding, according to a poll released this week by National Farmers Union (NFU).
calendar icon 13 September 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

The bipartisan poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research – a Democratic polling firm – and Public Opinion Strategies – a Republican polling firm – surveyed 400 American farmers across 13 Midwestern and Great Plains states on their views regarding farm bill conservation programmes. The results show that farmers view conservation programmes as highly important, including in a time of drought, and they strongly oppose any plan to cut conservation in order to fund short-term drought relief.

“The findings in this poll clearly show strong support for critical conservation programmes that are helping to lessen the effects of the current drought,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Cutting funding for conservation in order to pay for a short term drought bill is detrimental to the long-term vitality of America’s agricultural land.”

The US Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June in a bipartisan vote, while the US House of Representatives Agriculture Committee finished its mark up of the bill in July. House leaders declined to bring the farm bill to a vote before adjourning for its month long recess in early August.

“All of this could be accomplished if Congress would pass a farm bill before September 30,” said Mr Johnson. “We would get drought assistance without having to cut conservation programmes.”

The survey was conducted in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Specific highlights of the survey include:

  • There is virtually no support among farmers for decreasing conservation funding. Eighty-six per cent of farmers say the level of conservation funding should be maintained or increased. Nearly half would be less likely to support a member of Congress who voted to further cut conservation funding from the farm bill.

  • The poll found that farmers reject a plan to pay for short-term drought relief by cutting conservation programmes by a nearly two-to-one margin.

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