Calling for greater emphasis on working lands conservation programs, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) recently laid out the organization’s priorities for the Conservation Title of the 2007 farm bill before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research.

“Corn growers work every day balancing conservation management while producing a dependable food and energy supply,” said Jamie Jamison, NCGA Corn Board member.

He told the subcommittee corn growers have made environmental gains through conservation programs included in the 2002 farm bill.

“For corn growers it is not just about growing more corn; it’s about how producers grow the corn, how the corn is used, and sustaining the environment. Congress has a great opportunity with this new farm bill to further enhance the conservation programs for working lands.”

NCGA also pointed out continuing concerns regarding the complexity, implementation and utilization of the conservation programs. NCGA is encouraging the subcommittee to simplify and streamline the existing programs to allow better access and utilization by producers.

The group also supports science-based efforts to measure the real results of conservation practices growers implement. “The ability to develop understandable and relevant performance measures and communicate them to the public will help shape future public and congressional support for farm programs,” Jamison said.

NCGA believes the Conservation Title should adhere to the following criteria:

• Environmentally sound, based on sound science;

• Implemented nationally at the watershed level;

• Performance driven;

• Simplified and streamlined to encourage more participation;

• Target programs and funding to achieve greatest environmental savings.

The testimony also laid out recommendations for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program; the Conservation Security Program; the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program.

NCGA encouraged subcommittee members to look at the long-term view of the technical assistance budget, which helps field staff and the agriculture department address on-farm conservation challenges.