Dennis Anderson: Action urged on House Farm Bill

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 14, 2012 - 10:20 PM

Conservation provisions with the Senate measure are resolvable, observers say.

The House Agriculture Committee wrapped up its version of a new federal Farm Bill late last week. But whether the measure will be heard on the House floor before Congress' August break is unclear. For soil, water and wildlife conservation in Minnesota and elsewhere, a lot hangs in the balance.

This is particularly true because the recently approved federal Transportation Bill went to President Obama's desk virtually devoid of appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which Congress first approved in the 1960s to pay for recreation and conservation projects nationwide.

The fund is bankrolled by a percentage of fees the government charges for offshore oil and gas leases. But in recent years -- including in the recently passed Transportation Bill -- lawmakers diverted the funds elsewhere.

Conservationists had hoped to use some of the LWCF money to pay for millions of dollars of perpetual conservation easements primarily in the Dakotas. The intent was to conserve some of the fragile grasslands that are being plowed up, or might be, as a result of high corn and other crop prices.

The easements would come from willing landowners, of whom there are hundreds, who have told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service they would like to participate.

The Senate already has passed a Farm Bill that includes key provisions conservationists like. One is sodsaver, which provides farmers and ranchers incentives not to break up previously unplowed grasslands. The other is a compliance provision that links participation in USDA commodity programs, including crop insurance, with adherence to federal swampbuster and sodbuster programs.

The aim of both is to conserve lands a wide variety of game and nongame birds and other animals depend on, while also protecting fragile soils and discouraging farmland runoff.

Differences between the conservation titles of the Senate and House bills can be resolved in a conference committee, observers believe. The House, for instance, limits its sodsaver provision to the Prairie Pothole Region, while the Senate's would apply nationwide. Also, there is no conservation compliance provision in the House bill, though a floor amendment calling for one is expected.

For its part, the House went much deeper in cuts to the food stamp program, trimming it by $16 billion -- a big chunk of the $35 billion in cuts the chamber proposes over 10 years ($6.1 billion from conservation programs).

Minnesota Democrats Rep. Collin Peterson and Rep. Tim Walz have played key roles in shaping the conservation parts of the House Farm Bill. Peterson, the ranking minority committee member and former chairman, told Environment and Energy Daily reporter Amanda Peterka on Friday the bill will reach the House floor soon.

"It's important it does,'' said Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever vice president of government affairs. "If it doesn't, I think the cuts could get a lot worse.''

Dennis Anderson •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 3rd Prd 3:31
Dallas 1
St. Louis 2 2nd Prd 19:12
Vancouver 2
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 74 2nd Half 2:26
Colorado 75
Washington St 36 2nd Half 18:59
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question