Every five years, Congress works on what is known as the Farm Bill—an important bipartisan measure that helps farmers and rural economies in the US and includes extensive conservation programs. In fact, these programs make up the largest source of conservation funding on private lands in the United States and are critical to sustaining North America's grasslands and the wildlife that call them home.
In recent years, the Great Plains of the US and Canada have lost intact grassland faster than the Brazilian Amazon has lost rainforest as a result of conversion for cropland, energy, and housing development, making this year's Farm Bill more important than ever for the conservation of these American landscapes and their unique wildlife.
Congress needs to hear from you. Take action today and tell your representatives that the Farm Bill is critical not just for helping farmers and ranchers feed, fuel, and clothe the country, but also for protecting grasslands and habitat for hundreds of species, including endangered songbirds, black-footed ferrets, pronghorn antelope and native pollinators.
Tell Congress to protect our grasslands and wildlife by keeping conservation funding in the 2018 Farm Bill.
As a voter in your state and supporter of World Wildlife Fund, I ask you to oppose any environmental rollbacks or related riders in the 2018 Farm Bill. Instead, please preserve funding in the bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's conservation programs, including programs and policies such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Reserve Program, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, Sodsaver, and Conservation Compliance. These programs are critical for protecting habitat for black-footed ferrets, migratory birds and pollinators, threatened songbirds such as the Sprague's pipit and Cassin's sparrow, and many more grassland species. These programs also provide the support our farmers and ranchers need to invest in conservation of environmental resources on their lands, including soil and water, which provide invaluable public benefits.
Thousands of farmers and ranchers stewarding millions of acres of grasslands in the North American Great Plains depend on these programs to produce food, fuel, and fiber while preserving precious natural resources such as clean water and healthy soil. But it's difficult to produce food and protect our environment without assistance. Producers and consumers should not have to choose between agriculture and clean drinking water or healthy populations of American wildlife.
Over the past 30 years, USDA's conservation programs have provided critical technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers across America. Preserving these investments in protecting America's grasslands would be a big win for farmers and ranchers, consumers, and the environment. And because we all eventually pay for degraded resources—for example, in the form of costs to treat drinking water—investing in conservation programs today can save taxpayer money tomorrow.
I ask you to protect funding for these important programs and to reject any efforts to undermine environmental protections in the 2018 Farm Bill.