The 2014 farm bill doesn’t provide everything all the interested parties wanted – no legislation ever does. But conservation groups are saying they’re generally pleased with the conservation measures that made it into this farm bill, the Agriculture Act oif 2014.
Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Arkansas Rice Council and Arkansas Rice Farmers in Stuttgart, Ark., Jan. 30. Hall praised rice farmers for entering into a new partnership with his organization last year, and he also talked about the conservation measures in the new farm law.
"We got 24 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program," he said in an interview following his speech. "We got a billion dollars in funding out of the farm bill to be able to take care of wetlands, the wetlands easement-type activities, and we got the Sod Saver Program, which basically ties conservation compliance with the crop insurance program in the major states that are the waterfowl production areas.
"All things considered I think we got a really good farm bill given the amount of stress as it was under to get passed." (The Farm Bill Conference Report passed the House by a somewhat surprising margin of 251-166 considering the earlier farm bill votes in the chamber. The report was expected to be taken up by the Senate Tuesday (Feb. 4)."
For more on the farm bill votes, click on http://deltafarmpress.com/government/new-farm-bill-moves-out-conference.
In the interview with Delta Farm Press editor Forrest Laws, Hall talked about why the rice commodity program is important to protecting waterfowl.
"Rice is critical to waterfowl and a whole lot of other species in nature," he said. "We talk about waterfowl, but when you have rice you have a surrogate wetland. You have as close to nature as you're going to get.
"As rice stubble starts to decay, you get the invertebrate, the insects feeding off that; the same sort of things that occur in wetlands with leaf and other detritus that starts to decay. And also you have the residual grain that gives you the fats and proteins."