NFU Poll: Drought conditions add to importance of conservation

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WASHINGTON – American farmers value conservation programs, particularly in times of ­­drought, and reject cutting conservation funding, according to a poll released Sept. 11 by National Farmers Union (NFU).

The bipartisan poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research – a Democratic polling firm – and Public Opinion Strategies – a Republican polling firm – surveyed 400 American farmers across 13 Midwestern and Great Plains states on their views regarding farm bill conservation programs. The results show that farmers view conservation programs as highly important, including in a time of drought, and they strongly oppose any plan to cut conservation in order to fund short-term drought relief.

“The findings in this poll clearly show strong support for critical conservation programs that are helping to lessen the effects of the current drought,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Cutting funding for conservation in order to pay for a short term drought bill is detrimental to the long-term vitality of America’s agricultural land.”

The U.S. Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June in a bipartisan vote, while the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee finished its mark up of the bill in July. House leaders declined to bring the farm bill to a vote before adjourning for its month long recess in early August.

“All of this could be accomplished if Congress would pass a farm bill before Sept. 30,” said Johnson. “We would get drought assistance without having to cut conservation programs.”

The survey was conducted in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Specific highlights of the survey include: 

  • There is virtually no support among farmers for decreasing conservation funding. Eighty-six percent of farmers say the level of conservation funding should be maintained or increased.  Nearly half would be less likely to support a member of Congress who voted to further cut conservation funding from the farm bill.
  • Nearly eight in ten farmers (79 percent) believe that conservation programs are important to dealing with drought conditions.
  • The poll found that farmers reject a plan to pay for short-term drought relief by cutting conservation programs by a nearly two-to-one margin.

NFU worked with Cultivate Impact to produce this poll. Cultivate Impact is a new non-profit project of the Trust for Conservation Innovation specializing in strategic research and program development to help build a future with healthy and profitable farms, plentiful and accessible good food for all, and strong urban and rural communities.

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