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Letter to the editor: Proposed farm bill bad for environment

To the editor:

The House of Representatives released the draft 2018 farm bill. It is a complicated and traditionally bipartisan effort every five years that oversees crop insurance, food assistance and other important programs that affect all of us directly or indirectly. The draft farm bill overall cuts farm conservation programs by over $1 billion. It ignores previous proposed legislation that focuses on soil health and water quality within existing conservation programs. It eliminates the funding and authority for Conservation Stewardship Program, the nation's largest conservation program.

We wish to draw attention to three specific sustainable agricultural practices that are not supported by the current draft bill, but are vital to fighting climate change. The 2017 book "Drawdown" ranks 100 actions that can help us reverse global warming. regenerative farming (No. 11), conservation agriculture (No. 16), and managed grazing (No. 19) together can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by a combined 56.9 gigatons with implementation costs estimated at $0.146 trillion with a return of $4.735 trillion by 2050.

Protecting and building soil health makes farms more resilient to climate change effects and helps us all by putting atmospheric carbon into the soil. The principles are common sense: keep the soil covered, minimize soil disturbance, increase crop diversity, keep living roots in the soil, and integrate livestock. Supporting our local communities and farmers should go beyond crop insurance.

We also need to support specific farming practices that are vital to our future. Fortunately, this bill is still in draft form. Let your members of Congress know that you support sustainable agricultural practices.

Peggy Decker, Cannon Falls; Clay Oglesbee, Northfield; Anne Wildenborg, Tilton Davis, Pat Tieskoetter, Karen O'Rourke and Diane Picotte-Habedank, Red Wing