Green payments are the future of agricultural support

Boston -- New England farmers have and will continue to benefit from the Conservation Security Program, reported Kathleen Merrigan, PhD, to the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in January. The Conservation Security Program (CSP) is the first comprehensive green payment system that pays farmers for good land stewardship. CSP is up for congressional reauthorization and possible reconfiguration in the 2007 farm bill. Merrigan's testimony sheds light on why CSP should be funded and how it can be fine-tuned to better meet farmers' needs.

"Green payments are the future of agricultural support and the CSP has succeeded in rewarding New England farmers for stewardship of working lands." Merrigan, director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment program and assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, presented results to the Senate Committee from a study that looked at the impact of the CSP on New England farmers.

"However, inadequate funding limited the eligibility of farms in New England to participate," said Merrigan. "As a result, New England received just 0.4 percent of contracts nationwide a total of $234,068 in CSP payments or 0.15 percent of funds distributed by USDA in the fiscal year under study."

"New England farmersand likely farmers nationwidewould benefit from acting on eight opportunities to strengthen CSP, a program that should remain central in our national conservation strategy." The eight opportunities outlined by Merrigan in her testimony are:

  • rewarding and motivating farmers by funding the CSP as intended

  • removing caps to reduce the complexity and improve the transparency of the CSP

  • increasing participation in the program by expanding technical assistance

  • recognizing the limits of the soil conditioning index

  • supporting small farms by est

Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
Tufts University

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