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Put more money into land stewardship, says NASDA

The 2023 farm bill should expand funding for USDA soil and water conservation programs and allow payments to the so-called early adopters of climate-smart farming practices, said the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture on Tuesday. NASDA said the farm bill “must remain unified” by pairing farm support and public nutrition programs in one piece of legislation.

NASDA identified 10 areas within the farm bill for its advocacy efforts. It called for increased funding of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which shares the cost with producers in controlling runoff, and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, to keep land in farm use. EQIP received $1.85 billion and ACEP $450 million in fiscal 2022. The state agriculture directors’ group did not specify how large an increase would be appropriate.

On climate initiatives, NASDA recommended additional spending on research and on voluntary programs so farmers and ranchers can protect and conserve natural resources through farming practices. In a description of its farm bill goals, NASDA said it supported compensation to producers “already using climate-smart strategies to reduce emissions, sequester carbon and improve resiliency.”

The organization also called for “significantly increasing” the funding for research into food safety, food security, and protection of natural resources.

“The next farm bill must remain unified, securing a commitment to American agriculture and the critical food and nutritional assistance programs for those who need it the most,” said NASDA. Its list of farm bill priorities did not touch on farm support programs or crop insurance, two major sources of financial backing for farmers.

The farm bill was one of seven issues that NASDA members chose for attention this year. The others were environmental regulation, food production and the supply chain, food safety, animal health, international trade, and workforce development.

“These issues were chosen for the organization’s 2023 focus as NASDA members see specific opportunities for progress regarding each of these areas to best serve farmers, ranchers, and all communities across the nation,” said NASDA chief executive Ted McKinney. “Further, we believe these are the areas where state departments of agriculture are uniquely positioned to lead impact and direct policymaking solutions this year.”

To read the NASDA summary of farm bill priorities, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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