Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined his colleagues, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Boozman (R-AR), Joni Ernst, (R-IA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), in cosponsoring the bipartisan Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act to improve access to voluntary farm conservation programs administered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“Farmers and ranchers in Colorado are eager to enroll in conservation programs, but are often hindered by the onerous reporting requirements,” Bennet said. “This bill would remove the time-consuming and unnecessary reporting requirements for small farmers, making it easier for them to take advantage of tools to protect soil and water resources and improve wildlife habitat.”
Thousands of farmers and ranchers voluntarily participate in a wide range of conservation programs administered by the NRCS, an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical and financial assistance to improve conservation practices. However, annual federal reporting regulations required by this program are burdensome for many small, mid-sized, beginning, and historically-underserved farmers. This is because small farm businesses are considered in the same manner as other entities receiving multi-million dollar government contracts. Additionally, the reporting system is electronic and requires reliable internet access, putting farmers and ranchers in rural areas with limited broadband access at a disadvantage.
The Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act would remove these burdensome regulations for NRCS cost-share recipients, exempting them from specified reporting requirements.