Anything is Possible for Those Who Try
Before I worked for National Wildlife Federation, I was an analytical chemist at a private laboratory. Every day I was presented with a new challenge. Often, I had to find a way to do something that I believed couldn’t be done. However, when my job required me to complete a task, I always found a way to do it. Whether or not I believed it was possible was immaterial. Somehow, I always found a way.
Last week, NWF and over 100 other conservation organizations won a victory, despite many people telling us for months that it was not possible. Senator Saxby Chambliss’s (R-GA) amendment to the Farm Bill connecting conservation compliance to crop insurance passed 52-47, in spite of strong opposition from organizations like the American Farm Bureau and the Senate Agriculture Committee leadership, and doubt from leagues of others who just didn’t believe it would happen.
NWF supported the amendment because it ensures that taxpayer dollars don’t fund practices that harm wildlife and the public good. The requirements are simple: in order to receive premium subsidies on crop insurance farmers must a) refrain from draining wetlands and b) implement a soil conservation plan when farming highly erodible land (see our 2012 Farm Bill priorities page). It will not add extra administrative burdens to the USDA or prevent farmers from obtaining any crop insurance. It’s a commonsense provision and a fair trade for $90 billion dollars in subsidies over the next 10 years. However, interest groups who opposed compliance continue to expect taxpayer support to come no strings attached.
During the past few months, I’ve supported my NWF coworkers as they fought a tireless battle to get this provision into the Senate version of the Farm Bill, even though it may have seemed impossible at times. They weren’t alone in the fight—organizations like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, American Farmland Trust, the Izaak Walton League and others fought alongside them.
Soon, the House Agriculture Committee will begin work on their version of the Farm Bill and the battle will start all over again. It is crucial that the same protections are extended to wildlife habitat in the House version of the bill. There will be many people who oppose this, for many different reasons. Most of those reasons are just some other version of “it can’t be done.”
But my point is this: anything is possible for those who try.
What Can You Do?
If you want to keep your tax dollars from supporting unsustainable farming practices and help protect America’s wetlands, streams, rivers and lakes, you can help. Over 17,000 wildlife fans asked their Senator to support soil and wetlands conservation in the Senate Farm Bill; now we would like to ask you to contact your representative in the House and ask for the same thing.