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Oklahomans Make Conservation Progress, Cautiously Optimistic About New Farm Bill

Thu, 19 Apr 2012 23:03:32 CDT

Oklahomans Make Conservation Progress, Cautiously Optimistic About New Farm Bill

Conservation Day was recently observed at the Oklahoma State Capitol, giving those involved with conservation work an opportunity to get together, take stock of how far we've come and how far we have yet to go in conservation efforts.

Clay Pope, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts said conservation efforts are paying off in the Sooner state. A long list of Oklahoma streams are coming off the EPA's list of impaired waterways and Pope said the news is even better than that.

"We have another 100 to 130 that we believe we are going to be able to show were candidates to go on the list that won't have to because of the work agricultural producers are doing, that those farmers and ranchers and other landowners are doing."

He said that even though conservation work is always out in the forefront, it's benefits are visible to every Oklahoman.

"We had the driest year on record ever in the history of Oklahoma and we didn't see the return of the dust storms. There was some dirt moving around, but nothing like we saw in the 30s and the 50s. And, again, that's a testimony to the hard work that those agricultural producers are doing in partnership with their local districts."

Conservation Day is a time to honor the outstanding conservation district, the outstanding district director and the outstanding landowner-cooperator.   Pope said honors are also given to outstanding educators who train future generations "what needs to be done to maintain our natural resources."

Conservation issues are among the considerations when Congress writes the farm bill. So far, Pope said, conservation officials are pleased with what they are hearing as the bill takes shape.

"We're actually cautiously optimistic as we move forward with debate on the farm bill. When you look at the mark up that was put together by Chairman Lucas and Chairwoman Stabenow and the super committee, there were some changes in the conservation title. Some of them we liked a little better than others, but by and large the conservation title that was put together to go to the super committee was a good piece of legislation. And one that we wholeheartedly supported. "

The bill is a long way to reaching its final form, and Pope acknowledges there are some changes that would be helpful to conservation-minded producers.

"There needs to be some changes. We have to do our part to balance the budget as well, but at the end of the day to make sure those tools are there to help agricultural producers to deal with these challenges we see in the natural resource area through voluntary, incentive-based programs.

"We're hopeful everybody can come together, and not only come forward with a farm bill, that provides us the resources so that we can continue to feed and clothe the world and our nation, but also have those tools in there to make sure we're maintaining those resources to continue that production in the future.

Click on the LISTEN BAR below for more of Ron Hays' interview with Clay Pope, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts.



Ron Hays talks to Clay Pope about the 2012 Farm Bill.
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