Thompson Subcommittee Moves to Next Stage in Farm Bill Reauthorization with Review of Conservation Title

Apr 26, 2012 Issues: Agriculture

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, today held a hearing to learn from members of the agriculture community on how conservation programs should be structured and revised in the 2012 Farm Bill. This is the second of eight hearings at the Subcommittee level to gather input from national agricultural leaders and stakeholders before the House Agriculture Committee begins drafting the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization.  

“Given the current fiscal challenges, we understand the necessity of reductions to conservation spending, but equally understand the need to improve efficiencies in program delivery,” said Chairman Thompson. “Today’s panel provided the subcommittee with important feedback on how we can achieve these goals while keeping our farms profitable and ensuring a better return on investment for our nation’s producers and the American taxpayer.”  

Witnesses testified to the importance of conservation programs in assisting producers and landowners with voluntary conservation initiatives, while also acknowledging the difficult budget circumstances for reauthorizing Farm Bill programs.  Witnesses also made recommendations for consolidating or modifying programs, without diminishing their effectiveness or overall goals.

Mr. Carl Homan, Homan Family Dairy Farms, Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, was among the panelists, testifying on behalf of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.  Mr. Homan emphasized that conservation programs have helped the farming community in the face of increasing pressure from local, state and federal government in meeting clean up goals set for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

“Conservation programs are lifelines for farmers in my home state of Pennsylvania and many other communities across the Mid-Atlantic region, in meeting cleanup efforts set for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” Thompson added. “Through this reauthorization process, we will seek to build on the tremendous environmental gains made by our farmers and producers through the voluntary structure of federal conservation programs.”

The House Agriculture Committee began the information gathering process for the next farm bill two years ago.  Since then, the committee has conducted 11 audit hearings and four nationwide field hearings to look for ways to improve agriculture programs for farmers and increase efficiency.  The first field hearing was held in Harrisburg, Pa., and focused on the dairy industry.

Written testimony provided by the witnesses can be accessed here.

Panel I

Mr. Gene Schmidt, President, National Association of Conservation Districts, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Jon Scholl, President, American Farmland Trust, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Patrick O’Toole, President, Family Farm Alliance, Washington, D.C.

Mr. David E. Nomsen, Vice President of Government Affairs, Pheasants Forever, Inc. St. Paul, Minnesota

Mr. Garry Niemeyer, President, National Corn Growers Association, Auburn, Illinois

Panel II

Mr. David Bell, Executive Director, Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, on behalf of Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, Orono, Maine

Mr. Randall C. Gordon, Acting President, National Grain and Feed Association, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Carl Homan, Homan Family Dairy Farms, on behalf of National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Centre Hall, Pennsylvania

Ms. Sara Hopper, Agricultural Policy Director, Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, D.C.

Mr. David Petty, cattle producer, Member of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Eldora, Iowa