Soil Conservation officials gathered in Des Moines yesterday to celebrate the significant increase in federal payments for farmland conservation projects. State Conservationist LeRoy Brown says the new Farm Bill provides farmers an 80 percent increase in federal payments for a wide variety of conservation practices. Brown says the new system will be better for landowners. He says past programs led to frustration because there weren’t enough dollars available.Farmers will be able to qualify for federal payments by planting filter strips, using “no-till” farming practices or other soil conservation measures on cropland. Brown says previous federal conservation efforts focused on getting land out of production. With the new focus on ground that’s planted with crops, Brown says Iowa’s water will be cleaner because soil erosion will be reducedBrown also notes farmers’ participation in conservation programs remains voluntary in the new Farm Bill. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the U-S Senate’s Ag Committee, expects the rules to be written so farmers can start signing up for the new-fangled federal conservation payments in January.
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