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Published November 18, 2013, 10:56 AM

Flexible conservation programs help farmers

Don't believe the scare tactics.

By: Richard Monson, Agweek

As a North Dakota farmer, I support options to diversify my operation. I want voluntary conservation programs that are flexible in application.

Such programs will enhance my property while maintaining healthy soils and productive farmland for future generations. We landowners have the responsibility of stewardship to conserve our wonderful clean water and natural places for those who come after us. The Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment will provide that perfect match for North Dakota agriculture operators.

The Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment will put money in the pockets of North Dakota farmers and ranchers who enroll in voluntary conservation programs on private lands. All of the current federal conservation programs are oversubscribed and under-funded, with about half of the farmers applying for the Conservation Reserve Program getting turned down. The amendment will allow North Dakotans to design flexible programs that work best for us instead of waiting for the federal government. This amendment could put money on the ground through a grant process for cover programs on marginal soil types. We farmers would save the crop input costs, average crop yields per field would increase and the quality of water and soil would be preserved.

Don’t be misled by false scare tactics from those opposing the measure. Every granting decision will need to be approved by a commission made up of the governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner. I’m sure those three elected officials will make decisions that respect agriculture. In addition, this commission will have recommendations from a citizen board made up mostly of governor appointees, which includes four legislators appointed by legislators. If approved by the elected commission, grants from the fund can go to state agencies, local governments, tribes and nonprofits.

We farmers work the land and know what we need. And that’s options to do what we do best: provide food for the world while taking care of our water and land. The Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment can do all that without raising taxes. I’m in.

Editor’s note: Monson farms in Valley City, N.D.