U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today announced that he joined Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to introduce bipartisan legislation to improve access to voluntary farm conservation programs administered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The NRCS is an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical and financial assistance to farmers to improve conservation practices on their farms. However, annual federal reporting regulations required under this program have been burdensome on many small, mid-sized, beginning and historically underserved farmers. Additionally, because this reporting system is done electronically and requires reliable internet access, farmers in rural areas with limited broadband access are even further disadvantaged. Boozman and Klobuchar’s bill, The Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act, would remove this burdensome regulation for NRCS cost share recipients.
“Arkansas farmers and ranchers are excellent stewards of the environment. They strive hard to help us live up to our nickname of the Natural State, yet they are often boxed out of voluntary conservation programs to help accomplish this goal. Our bill can help them protect our shared resources by removing the bureaucratic barriers that keep family farmers from participating in these programs,” Boozman said.
“Farmers and producers across Minnesota are eager to take part in voluntary conservation programs, but for many, the burdensome reporting requirements and regulations are a barrier to access,” said Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan legislation will help remove government red tape that is standing between small and beginning farmers and the conservation programs that will help protect their farmland and the environments within their communities.”
Thousands of farmers and ranchers voluntarily participate in the wide range of conservation programs that are offered through NRCS, with many of these programs offering a cost-share payment which helps farmers with the cost of implementing conservation measures. The Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act would remove burdensome regulations for NRCS cost share recipients, which currently puts small farmers on the same level as other entities receiving multi-million dollar government contracts, such as large military contractors.