278 Groups Support Conservation Compliance and National Sodsaver

October 29, 2013

Dear Farm Bill Conferee,

As the House and Senate begins conferencing the final 2013 Farm Bill, the undersigned groups, representing millions of members across the country, urge you protect grasslands, wetlands, healthy soil and clean water by supporting a national sodsaver provision and re-coupling basic soil and water conservation measures to premium subsidies for crop insurance. Both of these provisions, included in the Senate bill, ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to incentivize risky or environmentally destructive practices. Conservation compliance and sodsaver are among the top farm bill priorities for our groups, and both will be determining factors as we consider our support for a final bill.

For decades, in exchange for a publicly funded safety net, farmers have committed to adopt land management practices that successfully reduced soil erosion and protected wetlands. By shifting subsidies away from direct payments and towards a strong crop insurance safety net, this new farm bill creates a loophole in the longstanding requirements that those who receive subsidies take minimal steps to protect the public good. Without these key protections, billions of taxpayer dollars spent on crop insurance over coming years will subsidize soil erosion that will choke our waterways, increase the cost of water treatment and dredging, and reduce the long term productivity of farmland. It will also allow for the destruction of tens of thousands of acres of valuable wetlands, resulting in increased downstream flooding, loss of wildlife habitat and decreased water quality. To keep these protections in place, it is critical that the final farm bill re-couple conservation compliance with crop insurance premium subsidies and does not weaken existing wetland conservation provisions.

Native grasslands across the country are disappearing at an alarming rate, threatening grassland-dependent wildlife species as well as the ranching and hunting industries dependent on those lands. From 2011 to 2012 alone, nearly 400,000 non-cropland acres were “broken out” for crop production. These acres are being lost across the entire country. In fact, over this period, more than 65 percent of these losses occurred outside of the Prairie Pothole Region states. A nationwide sodsaver provision will reduce taxpayer-funded incentives to destroy these critical grassland resources. Most of the land that is being converted from native ecosystems to cropland is marginal, highly erodible, or prone to flooding. Bringing this marginally productive land into crop production provides little benefit to taxpayers, increases long-term costs due to erosion and nutrient loss, and ultimately leads to reduced water quality, less capacity to reduce flooding and the loss of valuable wildlife habitat. Sodsaver does not prohibit farmers from breaking out new land; it ensures that if they do, they do so at their own risk by partially reducing the cost to taxpayers. It is critical that sodsaver apply to the entire country. A regional approach, such as included in the House bill, is not adequate to protect our nation’s remaining native grasslands.

We thank you for your efforts to complete the 2013 Farm Bill, and we strongly urge you to support soil, water, and wildlife habitat conservation in the final bill by including a national sodsaver provision, re-linking basic conservation measures to eligibility for crop insurance premium subsidies, and opposing efforts to weaken existing wetland protections. Doing so will save money and ensure long term farm productivity by protecting our nation’s vital natural resources.

National Groups:

American Bird Conservancy
American Farmland Trust
Amphibian Survival Alliance
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Bridging The Gap
Caribou Ecological
Center for Rural Affairs
Chicago Botanic Garden
Clean Water Action
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Defenders of Wildlife
Delta Waterfowl
Ducks Unlimited
Ecological Society of America
Environmental and Energy Study Institute
Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Working Group
Farm Bill Primer
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future
National Association of Clean Water Agencies
National Audubon Society
National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative
National Bobwhite Technical Committee
National Center for Appropriate Technology
National Parks Conservation Association
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
National Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense Council
Nature Abounds
North American Falconers’ Association
Pesticide Action Network
Pheasants Forever
Pollinator Partnership
Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation
Quail Forever
Soil and Water Conservation Society
The Conservation Fund
The Izaak Walton League of America
The Nature Conservancy
The Tortoise Reserve
The Wildlife Society
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Watchable Wildlife, Inc.
Water Environment Federation
Wildlife Management Institute
World Wildlife Fund
Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Regional Groups:

Alliance for the Great Lakes
Appalachian Conservation Biology
Central Flyway Council
Chapped Rapids Audubon Society
Delmarva Ornithological Society
Environmental Law & Policy Center of the Midwest
Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
Friends of the Upper Delaware River
Great Lakes Environmental Law Center
Gulf Restoration Network
Lake Champlain Committee
Midwest Environmental Advocates
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service
Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG)
Northern Great Plains Working Group
Northern Prairies Land Trust
Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides
Northwest Watershed Institute
Ohio River Foundation
Ozark Regional Land Trust
Quail & Upland Game Alliance
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory
The Wetlands Initiative
The Wildlife Society-Central Mountains and Plains Section
Total Resource Management
Western Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

State and Local Groups:

Arizona Wildlife Federation
Northern Arizona Audubon Society
Wild At Heart
Arkansas Public Policy Panel
Arkansas Wildlife Federation
Enviroscapes Ecological Consulting
Audubon California
California Climate and Agriculture Network
Endangered Habitats League
Roots of Change
Slow Food California
Wild Farm Alliance
Audubon Society of Greater Denver
Colorado Wildlife Federation
Grand Valley Audubon Society
Izaak Walton League of America, Pike’s Peak Chapter
Southern Plains Land Trust
Audubon Connecticut
Florida Wildlife Federation
Izaak Walton League of America, Cypress Chapter
Izaak Walton League of America, Florida
South Florida Audubon Society
South Florida Wildlands
St. Johns River Alliance
Georgia Wildlife Federation
Oconee Rivers Audubon Society
Friends of Camas NWR
Henrys Fork Chapter Idaho Master Naturalists
Intermountain Aquatics Inc.
Pend Oreille Chapter of the Idaho Master Naturalists
Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc.
Committee on the Middle Fork Vermilion River
Garden Advisors
Illinois Ornithological Society
Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation
Prairie Rivers Network
The Nature Institute
Geist Fall Creek Watershed Alliance
Hoosier Environmental Council
Indiana Assoc. of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Indiana Chapter of The Wildlife Society
Indiana Park & Recreation Association
Indiana Wildlife Federation
Save the Dunes
Sycamore Land Trust, Incorporated
Tippecanoe Audubon Society
Citizens for a Healthy Iowa
Des Moines Water Works
Driftless Chapter of Trout Unlimited (Decorah)
Iowa Bowhunters Association
Iowa Chapter of the American Fisheries Society
Iowa Environmental Council
Iowa Farmers Union
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Iowa Wildlife Federation
Izaak Walton League of America, Maquoketa Valley Chapter
North Bear Chapter of Trout Unlimited (Des Moines)
Quad City Audubon Society
Spring Creeks Chapter of Trout Unlimited (Iowa City)
Trout Unlimited, Iowa Council
Wagner Conservation Coalition
Audubon of Kansas
Kansas Rural Center
Kansas Wildlife Federation
Frankfort Audubon Society
Kentucky Conservation Committee
Kentucky Waterways Alliance
The Wildlife Society, Kentucky Chapter
America’s WETLAND Foundation
Atchafalaya Basinkeeper
Friends of Maine’s Seabird Islands
Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative
Western Foothills Land Trust
Fox Haven Farm and Learning Center
Izaak Walton League of America- Maryland Mid-shore Chapter
Izaak Walton League of America, Free State Chapter
Maryland Ornithological Society
Broad Brook Coalition
Massachusetts Audubon Society
Dwight Lydell Chapter, IWLA
Garden Project
Huron River Watershed Council
Lafayette Greens
Michigan Farmers Union
Michigan United Conservation Clubs
Michigan Wildlife Conservancy & Michigan Wildlife Habitat Foundation
Michigan Young Farmer Coalition
Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
Brainerd Lakes Area Audubon Society
Cannon River Watershed Partnership
Central Minnesota Audubon Society
Friends of the Mississippi River
Izaak Walton League of America, Cass County Chapter
Izaak Walton League of America, Jaques Chapter
Land Stewardship Project
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Minnesota Conservation Federation
Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union
Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust
W. J. McCabe Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America
Mississippi River Trust
Mississippi Wildlife Federation
Wildlife Mississippi
Conservation Federation of Missouri
EcoWorks Unlimited
Missouri Coalition for the Environment
Missouri Coalition for the Environment
Missouri Farmers Union
Missouri Parks Association
Missouri Prairie Foundation
Missouri Stream Team
Missouri Stream Team 3762
Ozark (Missouri) Council Trout Unlimited
Social Services/Rural Life, CCCNM
Montana Audubon
Montana Wildlife Federation
Audubon Society of Omaha
Izaak Walton League of America- Grand Island Chapter
Nebraska Chapter of the Wildlife Society
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society INC-NSAS
Nebraska Wildlife Federation
Western Nebraska Resources Council
Bear-Paw Regional Greenways
New Jersey Wildlife Society
Church Women United of New York State
Buffalo Audubon Society
Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
Save The River, the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper
Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester Justice & Peace & Global Environment Committees
The Wetland Trust
Land Trust for the Little Tennessee
North Carolina Trout Unlimited Council
North Carolina Wildlife Federation
Resource Institute, Inc.
Browns Ranch
Izaak Walton League of America, Buckeye All-State Chapter
Izaak Walton League of America, Headwaters Chapter
Izaak Walton League of America, Wayne County Chapter
Izaak Walton League of America, Western Reserve Chapter
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
Ohio Environmental Council
Ohio Farmers Union
Ohio Spider Society
Ohio Wetlands Association
Shaker Lakes Garden Club
Silvertip Productions, Ltd
Izaak Walton League – Oregon Division
Izaak Walton League – Silverton Chapter
Izaak Walton League of America, Mary’s Peak Chapter
Kalmiopsis Audubon Society
Lane County Audubon Society
Oregon Tilth
Salem Audubon Society
Ecological Associates
Lake Erie Region Conservancy
Lehigh Valley Audubon Society
Pennsylvania Chapter of The Wildlife Society
Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs
East Greenwich Municipal Land Trust
Coastal Conservation League
Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History
South Carolina Wildlife Federation
Black Hills Sportsmen Club
Delta Waterfowl, the Sioux Falls, SD Chapter
High Plains Wildlife Association
Huron(SD) Puddle Jumpers Chapter of Delta Waterfowl
Izaak Walton League of America, Rapid City Chapter
Living River Group- Sierra Club
Northern South Dakota Chapter of Pheasants Forever
South Dakota Agriculture Conservation Coalition
South Dakota Chapter of the Sierra Club
South Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Society
South Dakota Farmers Union
South Dakota Grassland Coalition
South Dakota Wildlife Federation
Tennessee Clean Water Network
Tennessee Ornithological Society
Audubon Dallas
Houston Audubon Society
Texas Conservation Alliance
Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park
Fredericksburg-Rappahannock Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America
Shenandoah Valley Network
U.S. Trail Riders
Virginia Association for Biological Farming
Virginia Conservation Network
Virginia Food Works
North Cascades Audubon Society
Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network
Izaak Walton League of America, Mountaineer Chapter
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
Milwaukee Riverkeeper
Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association, Inc.
Wisconsin Society for Ornithology
Wisconsin Soil and Water Conservation Society
Wisconsin Wildlife Federation
Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society
Wyoming Outdoor Council