Farmer urges Congress to preserve conservation funding

A Wisconsin farmer is speaking out in favor of keeping conservation program funding in the next farm bill.

Jack Herricks milks about 600 cows and grows corn and an alfalfa-oats mixture in the very-hilly driftless region near Cashton, Wisconsin.  He tells Brownfield the conservation programs are needed to help keep soil and nutrients in place, and to provide a steady food supply. “We need to keep the landscape in place. We need to keep our resources where they are, you know, our topsoil in place, and keep our nutrients right where we can continue to use them to grow a crop.”

Some in Congress want to reduce funding for conservation programs in the next farm bill.  Herricks says conservation practices are not an expense, but an investment in profitability.  He says in his 52 years of farming, the organic matter content of his soil has improved from the low 2% range to between 4.2 and 4.4%.  “And each percent increase in organic matter gives our soil the capacity to hold another inch equivalent of rainfall, and when we’re talking moisture challenged conditions like last year and potentially this year, that’s just huge.”

Herricks farm makes extensive use of grass waterways and contour strips instead of planting one crop to a field.  He fears the end of conservation program funding would lead to more soil loss as hills get planted to a single crop. “When the dairy cows leave, the alfalfa leaves and in short order, soybeans and corn come in and pretty soon, instead of having rotating contour strips, it’s just rotating a whole hillside from one crop to another.”

Herricks says if funding for conservation programs goes away in the next farm bill, the proven methods that have been preserving soil and nutrients on hilly ground like his for years might go away. “All of them conservation practices that were in place for decades, they can disappear in just a matter of a few years.”

And he says having cows in the hilly regions is good for conserving soil and nutrients because roots in hay and pasture ground hold soil for years.

Herricks says farmers are long-term faithful stewards of the land, and with support including the farm bill conservation programs, they will do what needs to be done to preserve soil and water while feeding the country.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Stay Up to Date

Subscribe for our newsletter today and receive relevant news straight to your inbox!

Brownfield Ag News