As the U.S. Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill last week, which included cuts to the Conservation Stewardship Program, farmers across the Midwest weighed in with their thoughts about conservation programs and environmental stewardship. According to a poll released by the National Farmers Union on June 25, 2012, surveyed farmers believe these two things are key components of the Farm Bill and critical to their bottom lines.
The bipartisan poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (a Democratic polling firm) and Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican polling firm) surveyed 502 American farmers across 13 Midwestern and Great Plains states on their views regarding Farm Bill conservation programs.
“The findings of this survey demonstrate the deep commitment to conservation that farmers have across the heartland,” says NFU President Roger Johnson. “As Congress moves forward crafting the Farm Bill, we would emphasize the importance conservation programs play for farmers both for environmental stewardship and continued productivity.”
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to begin markup on their bill in the second week of July.
The survey was conducted in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Specific highlights of the survey include:
- Eighty-six percent of farmers say the level of conservation funding should be maintained or increased. Nearly half would be less likely to support a member of Congress who voted to cut conservation funding more than the $6 billion in the Senate-passed Farm Bill.
- Conservation programs rank as the second-highest priority for inclusion in the Farm Bill, and farmers are not swayed by an argument that says conservation funding should be cut in order to prioritize risk-management coverage.
- Farmers view conservation as a priority that is vital to their long-term economic viability with nearly three-quarters of farmers saying that conservation programs help their bottom lines.
- By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, farmers believe that farmers should be required to meet some environmental standards in order to receive federal benefits, such as crop insurance.
NFU worked with Cultivate Impact to produce this poll. Cultivate Impact is a new nonprofit project of the Trust for Conservation Innovation specializing in strategic research and program development to help build a future with healthy and profitable farms, plentiful and accessible good food for all, and strong urban and rural communities.