Collaborative hails Senators’ bipartisan leadership on critical conservation program
The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative is working with leaders in the public, private, and NGO sectors to support farmer-led conservation in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. That includes supporting the public-private partnerships — and the programs these partnerships rely upon — that bring key stakeholders together.
The Collaborative today heralded the leadership of U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) for their bipartisan effort to ensure the Regional Conservation Partnership Program continues to support these field-level and farmer-led conservation partnerships.
“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program and underlying federal conservation programs are a critical part of supporting farmers’ field-level efforts to improve water quality, strengthen soil health, and reduce nutrient loss into the Mississippi River and other waterways,” the Collaborative wrote in its letter. “The MRCC supports legislative efforts to continue to improve and enhance RCPP and appreciates your bipartisan leadership with the Regional Conservation Partnership Program Improvement Act.”
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Honorable Senators Stabenow and Ernst,
We write to you today on behalf of the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative (MRCC) to offer our support for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in the upcoming Farm Bill discussions. The Collaborative is a diverse coalition working to expand agricultural solutions that protect air and water quality, and enhance soil health, while remaining committed to producing the food, fuel, and fiber the world needs. Our members — Cargill, Environmental Defense Fund, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Land O’Lakes, Inc., McDonald’s, Monsanto, PepsiCo, The Nature Conservancy, Unilever, Walmart, and World Wildlife Fund — are working together to support farmer-led efforts to improve soil health, reduce nutrient losses into the rivers and streams of the Mississippi River Basin, and maximize water conservation.
Farmer-led conservation is essential to making measurable progress against the water-quality challenges facing our nation today. Farmers have shown time and again they are best positioned to improve and conserve our nation’s natural resources when the public, private, and NGO sectors support voluntary environmental stewardship.
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program and underlying federal conservation programs are a critical part of supporting farmers’ field-level efforts to improve water quality, strengthen soil health, and reduce nutrient loss into the Mississippi River and other waterways. The MRCC supports legislative efforts to continue to improve and enhance RCPP and appreciates your bipartisan leadership with the Regional Conservation Partnership Program Improvement Act.
Congress will consider a series of landmark legislation over the coming months. We urge you to invest in the RCPP. The program’s proven results, investments in public-private partnerships, and cost-effective approach to supporting farmer-led conservation have only underscored why the RCPP should be continued and improved.
The Collaborative’s members have all seen firsthand the essential role the RCPP can play in achieving significant conservation outcomes. In addition to the many RCPP projects our individual members are funding, the MRCC has directly invested in the following RCPP projects:
- The Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership has matched $9.5 million in federal funding with over $38 million in private investment from more than 40 partners. The Partnership promotes science-based, non-regulatory approaches to reducing nutrient loss and improving water quality, soil health, and habitat for at-risk species. It aims to scale up conservation planning and delivery by leveraging partner-farmer relationships and precision agriculture technology to improve environmental outcomes and farmland productivity at the same time. The Partnership focuses on natural resource challenges in Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.
- The Precision Conservation Management program (PCM) combines farm business financial planning with precision conservation technology to inform decision making on conservation practices. PCM’s 30 partners aim to quantify the farmer’s bottom line benefit from adopting conservation practices, from efficiency gains to risk mitigation, in a data-driven approach. This information is then used to help growers apply enterprise-scale changes through the Conservation Stewardship Program. PCM seeks to engage farmers in Illinois, Iowa, and Kentucky.
As the U.S. Congress considers how best to invest in farmers, improve environmental outcomes, and strengthen America’s agricultural economy, the RCPP is a proven, common-sense strategy that will continue our country’s commitment to farmer-led environmental stewardship and we look forward to working with you on how to continue to improve and enhance this program.
The Collaborative has engaged with lawmakers at the state and federal levels to highlight how they can support farmers’ efforts to improve water quality and soil health.
The Collaborative urged leaders on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee on the Budget, U.S. House Committee on the Budget, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, and U.S. House Committee on Appropriations in a June 2017 letter to support robust funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in the FY2018 budget. The Collaborative also encouraged Iowa leaders in April 2017 to continue to lead national efforts to address water quality and conservation within agricultural practices and landscapes.