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What the New Farm Bill Could Mean For Conservation

What the New Farm Bill Could Mean For Conservation
State conservationist is ready to roll up sleeves and get to work on new farm bill programs

Ask Jane Hardisty about the new farm bill, and she wants to talk about conservation first. That's natural since she is the state conservationist for Indiana with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. She is also a native Hoosier, and lives on the family farm near Greenfield in Hancock County.

"We believe conservation fared pretty well overall in the farm bill," Hardisty says. "There may not be quite as many dollars for the EQIP program nationwide, but we feel like we came out in pretty good shape."

Related: What Ag Interests Have to Say About the 2014 Farm Bill

POSITIVE LEADER: Jane Hardisty feels positive going forward as leader of the Indiana NRCS after the 2014 Farm Bill passed.

One indicator is for the first time in history, there are more dollars allotted for Conservation, a Title II program, than for Title one- the commodities program. Conservation was allotted 28 billion dollars over the next five years, Hardisty notes.

"Programs are going to be more targeted," she says. The trend was moving in that direction even before the farm bill was passed.

"Instead of seeing a practice here and there, you're going to see dollars targeted for areas that need conservation help the most, and where we can do the most good in minimizing erosion and improve water quality," the leader says.

However, the Conservation Reserve Program will continue. It was first implemented in the mid- 80s, with support from then U.S. senator Richard Lugar from Indiana.

"There will also be work toward combining our programs that we offer," Hardisty says. Even employees of NRCS have noted for years that they felt the programs would be easier to administer and sell to farmers if they were streamlined. There were so many programs that it was becoming difficult to remember all the acronyms, and know what program might fit were for which producers.

"Our programs will now fall under three key areas," Hardisty says. "They are financial assistance, easements and partnerships.

"Overall, we feel positive about NRCS and its role in conservation in the future," she concludes.

TAGS: Farm Policy
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