Iowa's conservation and agricultural leaders will join together in Des Moines February 23 to discuss how the 2012 U.S. Farm Bill can better conserve the state's land, water and rural communities. Kicking off the half-day event will be Congressman Tom Latham (R-Clive), who serves on the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee for Agriculture; and Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-Des Moines) (invited), who serves on the House Agriculture Committee.
Sponsored by the Izaak Walton League of America, the February 23 forum is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Des Moines Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, located at 4343 George Flagg Parkway in Des Moines.
The afternoon will feature a panel discussion on conservation priorities, including panel member Roger Wolf of the Iowa Soybean Association and representatives of Practical Farmers of Iowa.
How can new farm bill better shape sustainable food and farm priorities?
"Every five years, a massive piece of legislation called the Farm Bill determines how tens of billions of federal tax dollars will be spent to shape American agriculture. These sessions will help all Iowans – from farmers to grocery shoppers – better understand how the Farm Bill impacts our food, soil, air and water and how we can better shape sustainable food and farm priorities," says Brad Redlin, ag program director of the Izaak Walton League of America.
The Izaak Walton League is working with farmers and conservationists across the Midwest to discuss the needs and opportunities for the 2012 Farm Bill. The goal is to gain public input from all types of citizens on the effective role of the Farm Bill in supporting an agricultural system that achieves stewardship, prosperity, and fairness.
"That means federal farm policies should support agricultural practices that are good for farmers, good for the environment, and good for America," says Redlin. The U.S. Farm Bill sets federal policy for agriculture, energy, conservation, nutrition, and rural development. The last bill, passed in 2008, was called the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 and carried a price tag of $288 billion. Under current requirements for federal deficit reduction, funding for the Farm Bill will be under increased scrutiny, which underscores the importance of public involvement, Redlin explains.
Seeking ways to increase conservation efforts and yet save federal tax dollars
One way the IWLA is exploring to increase conservation and save federal tax dollars in the 2012 Farm Bill is to prioritize stewardship agreements that will protect wetlands, wildlife habitat and sensitive soils.
"Under specific provisions in federal farm law, farmers who accept taxpayers' money agree to provide basic stewardship of soil, water and wetlands," Redlin says. "This requires no additional federal dollars; in fact, it can result in budgetary savings, cleaner water and improved wildlife habit."
For more information about the Izaak Walton League of America and the Farm Bill go to www.iwla.org/agconservation. More about stewardship agreements in the federal farm program is contained in the IWLA issue brief: 2012 Farm Bill: IWLA Issue Brief II. The Iowa Farm Bill Forum is free and open to the public. To attend, please RSVP by Feb. 22 by contacting Gwen Steel at [email protected] or (651) 649-1446.