Paying it Forward
keep that water cleaner, too. When my grandson, Kalon, caught his very first fish last summer, it was in a small river made cleaner by these and other efforts through the Farm Bill. In fact, we walked through a CRP buffer along the river to get to that fishing hole.
Reduced Soil Erosion
The programs of the Farm Bill have had a significant impact on soil erosion since the Conservation Reserve Program was first implemented in 1985. Missouri’s erosion rate has dropped more than any other state’s since 1982, when its 10.9 tons-per-acre rate was the second highest in the nation. In 2003, an average of 5.3 tons of soil eroded from each acre of Missouri’s cultivated cropland. This is the fifth highest rate in the country.
Another large credit for this hefty drop in soil erosion comes from an aggressive soil and water cost-share program operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and county soil and water conservation districts across the state. It is funded by a 1/10 of 1 percent sales tax dedicated toward soils and state parks.
Forests for the Future
No other program funds sustainable management for so many acres of our private forests. Farm Bill funding for forestry practices in Missouri is approaching $1 million per year. The promise of the Farm Bill for our forests can best be summed up by the American Forest Foundation:
“The Farm Bill will increase opportunities for America’s private forest landowners to provide economic and environmental benefits to the larger society. These provisions represent great advances on behalf of private forest landowners. Working forests are vital to our rural economies. It is in our collective interest to help ensure that family forest landowners can afford to keep their land in forest management where they choose to do so, and that millions of acres of forested land remain forested and managed to provide jobs and timber, clean water, opportunities for fishing, hunting and enjoyment of the outdoors, habitat for fish and wildlife and defense against changing and more unpredictable climate.”
My son Andrew’s first turkey was harvested in timber sustainably managed through a Farm Bill program. It was the same stand he harvested cedar logs from to build seating for the front porch. Turkeys are attracted to this forest for nighttime roosting, because the open understory allows the birds to easily fly up into the roost trees at dark.