New action alert: Help Iowa’s Senators make the case for conservation


Update:  (6/19/2012) The U.S. Senate is expected to act quickly on many farm bill amendments, including one to re-establish the critical conservation compliance – insurance subsidy connection.

The name of the amendment has changed, and is now the Chambliss conservation compliance amendment #2438.

In addition to e-mailing Senators Grassley and Harkin about this legislation, we urge you to call today:

  • Sen. Harkin’s office:  (202) 224-3254
  • Sen. Grassley’s office:  (202) 224-3744

Here’s our previous alert on this topic before this update:

This action alert is part of our continuing special coverage of the 2012 farm bill.

Last week, the U.S. Senate began considering the 2012 farm bill, and one of Iowa’s two Senators, Tom Harkin, made his support of a critical conservation measure public:

“I support crop insurance.  But I do believe that there ought to be conservation compliance along with crop insurance,” he told reporter Clark Kauffman.

“The more taxpayer dollars that can go to conservation, the better off everyone is—the better off farmers are, the better off our society is, the better off our country is,” Harkin added.

The Iowa Environmental Council, other conservation groups, and people from across the country have been calling for a connection between taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies and conservation practices all year, and Harkin’s comments are a sign those calls are being heard in Washington.


Although the Senate Agriculture Committee included some limits on insurance subsidies for farmers who plow native prairies or grasslands for the first time, the current bill does not include badly needed protections for wetlands and highly erodible soil.

Further, the agribusiness lobby would prefer that substantially increased insurance subsidies continue with no strings attached, and are working tirelessly to advance that position.

Your action is needed now because you are in a unique position to help these needed conservation protections become law.  Both of Iowa’s Senators have been strong advocates for reform of federal farm programs, and both could be critical voices of support for these additional conservation practices.

But Senators Harkin and Grassley need to hear from you.  They need to know Iowans expect more than “no strings attached” farm subsidies that contradict efforts to conserve our state’s soil and water.

Without conservation standards, federally subsidized crop insurance has the unintended consequence of encouraging production on marginal lands.  Farmers who want to fulfill their responsibility for good stewardship of the land are at a disadvantage, because poor stewards are allowed to cut corners and reap the same public benefits.

You can support needed conservation action by contacting Senators Harkin and Grassley and encouraging them to support the Cardin Conservation Compliance Amendment.  To take action, fill out the Senators’ contact forms.  You can personalize our sample message, below, or write your own to explain why farm conservation is important to you.

Contact Senator Harkin:

Contact Senator Grassley:


(We encourage you to personalize this message to explain why you think conservation protections belong in the next farm bill.)

Dear Senator:

Iowa is fortunate to be represented by two U.S. Senators who are both strong advocates for needed reforms to farm programs that will protect farmers,  taxpayers, and Iowa’s natural resources.  As the Senate debates the farm bill this week, I encourage you to take another step to protect the public interest by supporting the Cardin Conservation Compliance Amendment (SA-2219).

This important amendment will help ensure taxpayer dollars protect natural resources while providing the safety net farmers need.  Many Iowa farmers work hard to be good stewards of the land and water, but they face a competitive disadvantage when poor stewards can cut corners and receive the same public benefits.  Without your action, crop and revenue insurance payments will continue to incentivize farming on marginal lands where intensive crop production is neither environmentally nor economically sustainable in the long run.

As Congress works to design a farm safety net that meets the needs of today’s farmers, it’s important that policies to protect the long-term health and productivity of Iowa’s landscape do not fall behind.  Now is the time to restore the link between conservation compliance and subsidies for crop insurance.  I hope you will support efforts to incorporate this reform into the final farm bill.


[your name]

Contact Senator Harkin:

Contact Senator Grassley:


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