At this writing, the U.S. Senate’s version of the 2018 Farm Bill was headed for full floor debate — and to tack on amendments. Yes, that’s what politicians do. Senate leaders wisely and deliberately kept controversial issues out of the ag committee's draft. Now for the big "but":
Under the proposed Title II — Conservation, there’s a new option to permanently retire land under a conservation reserve easement. It would be an alternative to re-enrolling on 10-to-15-year rental contracts.
For certain, the environmental and wildlife organizations will push hard for more invasive "eternity" provisions to improve water quality via expanded conservation butter and wetland acreage. On the surface, and for some farmland situations, that might be a good deal — especially for streams, fish, fauna, birds and bees. Just be wary of unintended consequences, especially if you’re thinking of putting in buffers or wetlands. Did I mention beavers, muskrats and WOTUS?
Unintended wild encroachments
Since January, Farm Progress has been following Robert Brace’s 30-year legal battle with the United States over EPA’s enforcement of Swampbuster provisions. In brief, the Erie County, Pa., farmer was forced to establish wetlands on one of his tracts of land. Over time, beavers invaded. Because of the wetlands, removing them was no easy deal due to the legal dispute.
Beavers did what beavers do — build dams. The dams made still more of Brace’s farmed land subject to flooding and yet another challenge by EPA and backed by fervent environmentalists.
Then there’s WOTUS. Despite countless lawsuits against EPA’s "Waters of the United States" rule, that extension of federal authority over intermittent water flows in ditches, grass waterways, even swales is still on the books. Congress still hasn’t mandated that WOTUS be drowned.
For more the Brace case, see:
Mess up and fess up
American Agriculturist’s long-standing editorial policy is to publicly acknowledge mistakes — come clean. We regret errors in two of our Master Farmer features.
In Tom Clowney’s article, we misspelled Tom’s wife’s name, Joanne, once as Joanna. We also need to note that daughter-in-law Charlotte is the farm’s main bookkeeper.
In Bob Shearer’s feature, wife Doreen reports: "We have three grown children, not four — Bobby, Ashley Gemmill and Mike." And she adds, "Mike and his wife, Julie, have one child and another on the way."