27 June 2012 Senate Victory: Farm Bill Mandates ‘Conservation Compliance’ Posted by: John Motsinger | 1 comment | Share: The news from Congress has been pretty grim lately for wildlife, but our persistence has paid off with at least one major victory. Last week, the U.S. Senate approved a Farm Bill amendment that reinstates vital protections for wetlands and highly erodible lands from conversion to crops. It may not sound like a big deal, but the provision (known as “conservation compliance”) prevents farm subsidy recipients from destroying sensitive habitat needed to sustain native plants and animals. Without this measure, row crops could stretch for miles, end-to-end, without the critical buffers around streams, river banks and delicate outcroppings that offer refuge for wildlife. PausePlayPlayPrev|Next The trees preserved along this river provide ideal habitat for nesting birds and other wildlife. Grass buffers like this one help filter agricultural runoff to keep pesticides, fertilizer and sediment out of waterways. Vegetative buffers like these are crucial for giving animals a place to rest and take cover across America's vast farm landscapes. Conservation compliance was first introduced as part of the 1985 Farm Bill, requiring any farmer participating in certain subsidy programs to develop and comply with an approved conservation plan. Unfortunately, the 1996 Farm Bill altered the provision, and since then conservation compliance has not been tied to crop insurance subsidies. Thanks to an amendment offered by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) to the current Farm Bill, conservation compliance will once again be tied to crop subsidies. In other words, any producers receiving tax-payer subsidized crop insurance will become ineligible for these subsidies if they convert highly-erodible land or wetlands to crops. Producers will also have to develop and comply with an approved conservation plan. Because crop insurance is such a popular program for farmers, this one seemingly small change will have far-reaching impacts. If the amendment is included in the final bill endorsed by the House of Representatives, it will ensure that wildlife habitat remains on up to 250 million acres of farmland – the same acreage as all of the land under the control of the Bureau of Land Management. Having conservation compliance helps create “shelter-belts” that support up to 90 species of breeding birds by allowing greater nest densities. Without these marginal habitats, literally millions of birds would not be able to survive throughout America’s vast farm landscapes. They also provide buffers that improve water quality by preventing erosion and reducing pollution from pesticides and fertilizer. We’ll be working hard when the Farm Bill is taken up by the House later this year to make sure this provision is included. We’ll also be fighting to increase the overall funding for wildlife conservation, habitat restoration and projects to protect and improve water quality, all of which were cut by 25 percent in the Senate. It’s going to be an uphill battle, but our nation’s wildlife is well worth fighting for. One Response to “Senate Victory: Farm Bill Mandates ‘Conservation Compliance’” diane ralph July 7th, 2012 Dont destroy senstive habitats. Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap-Up Helicopter gunning kills 23 wolves in Idaho; Urge Secretary Jewell to abandon gray wolf delisting proposal — Call your representative by March 14; Washington wildlife agency urged to end support for abolishing federal wolf protections; The latest on Governor Otter’s wolf control board. Two Too Many Development Projects in the Ivanpah Valley While these projects most definitely directly impact a species that has been identified as threatened and is dependent on the habitat where they would be built, Silver State South and Stateline’s approval is most troubling for a bigger reason. You see, this isn’t just an issue for the Ivanpah Valley. Developers and agencies need to be conscious of how and where they plan energy projects all across the country. They need to look at renewable energy planning with a landscape-wide lens, understanding that building in the right places and making an effort to minimize environmental impacts from the start are essential. California’s Rim Fire: Opportunities Rise from the Ashes After California’s devastating Rim Fire, will officials take the opportunity to give nature a chance to fully recover?