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Paying it Forward

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 10, 2010

The federal Farm Bill has brought more than $1.5 billion in conservation funds to Missouri landowners since 1985, when the first of the modern conservation programs, the Conservation Reserve Program, began.

The conservation provisions of the Farm Bill have the potential to leave a legacy to benefit future generations of Missourians. That legacy will likely include cleaner water for drinking and recreation, sustainably managed forests, soils that are more productive and more abundant wildlife. These programs are already providing direct benefits for my children and my grandson as they enjoy the adventures of hunting, fishing and even a glass of water from the tap. Your family is benefiting, too.

Cleaner Water

While much of the state and national press focuses on the commodity price support and nutrition portions of the Farm Bill, little is said about the conservation programs and the direct impact they have on most Missourians. For instance, when we drink a glass of water, these federal programs have made it a better glass of water for us to drink, whether it comes from an underground aquifer, a river or lake. In fact, several programs are aimed specifically at watersheds above the drinking water intakes of rivers and lakes throughout Missouri. The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is the most recent program focused on those watersheds and has enrolled 40,000 acres of cropland into buffers and wildlife practices in order to protect drinking water quality. The Department of Conservation and the Department of Natural Resources have provided additional funding for this program.

The Farm Bill helps Missouri agricultural producers to properly manage pesticides and nutrients to keep those pollutants from entering streams and underground aquifers. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program of the 2002 Farm Bill, more than 400,000 acres of cropland in Missouri have had nutrient and pest management practices applied to ensure that runoff into lakes and streams contains only minimal amounts of nutrients and pesticides. In 2008 alone, nutrient and pest management practices were applied to more than 220,000 acres in Missouri through all programs of the Farm Bill.

The Farm Bill also provides funding for the management of livestock waste from small confinement operations on family-owned farms. Livestock waste runoff into streams has been eliminated for an estimated 20,000 head of cattle, 200,000 head of swine and 500,000 poultry.

If you use Missouri’s streams and lakes for fishing, canoeing or other recreation, these programs are helping

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