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Created: 6/28/16 (Tue) | Topic: Issues        

Changing the conservation conversation
 

Changing the conservation conversation

What do you do when a government program uses a less-than-ideal non-government partner to work with farmers and ranchers on conservation programs? You work with your elected officials to change the conversation. Which is what NDFB did with the farm bill conservation program.

Download the Changing the conversation on government programs mp3.

Read the transcript:

The new trend in controlling government spend in the last 10 to 15 years has been by the allowance of partnerships between non-government organizations and the government agencies that are providing services.

North Dakota Farm Bureau has very specific policy relating to this, and I quote: We oppose using non-government organizations or groups to provide technical support for implementation of farm bill programs. Unquote.

Realizing that we have this view from our membership, we are in the middle of a five-year farm bill. So we had to look at, “How can we address, and change the conversation midstream, knowing that this law is provided for, and it’s perfectly legal for these agencies to do.

The agency most noted for doing this in North Dakota is the NRCS, who was using national, non-government agencies as partners to help with the delivery of farm bill conservation programs.

We were concerned of information being shared of farmers and ranchers on a national scale, through these organizations. Now, whether it was happening or not, the perception is that our farmers and ranchers would be more comfortable if these national organizations weren’t involved. So we took a stand to get into the conversation and try and change the methodology – midstream – of who provided these services.

We were instrumental in filing a complaint with our U.S. Congressman, Congressman Cramer, also a solution that we brought forth to bring it back to a non-government organization for that partnership that had local accountability here in the state, that being the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts.

This has been on-going for nearly a year now. It has been successful. We’ve heard positive reviews from farmers and ranchers that are utilizing it. It’s a partnership that brings ag groups and wildlife groups together, but has neither one of us in control of the information.

We felt that, in the interim, this was a good step to get the conversation going and change that conversation of how government programs should be funded and implemented if the public feels those programs are worth having.

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