The Soil and Water Conservation Society has released a report that could serve as a resource for those wanting to evaluate the conservation provisions in the House Agriculture Committee's version of a new Farm Bill (H.R. 2646, the Farm Security Act of 2001.)

The report contains an easy-to-read "scorecard" that compares the conservation provisions in the House committee's bill with 22 recommendations in a report SWCS released in June. The report, "How Does H.R. 2646, The Farm Security Act of 2001, Measure Up?," can be accessed on the SWCS Web site at: http://www.swcs.org/t_seeking_intro.htm

"The scorecard acknowledges that the Agriculture Committee's bill invests 75 percent more money in conservation for the nation's working land. However, the policy behind the budget numbers threatens to erode much of the benefit of the added spending," says Craig Cox, SWCS executive vice president. "Our scorecard compares the House provisions to the recommendations SWCS made based on input from five regional workshops involving agricultural, water resource, and fish and wildlife conservation leaders."

Those workshops were designed to: (1) strengthen existing conservation programs to enhance the environmental performance and commercial viability of farms and ranches; (2) build a new farm policy based on land stewardship that works for all producers, for all crops, in all regions of the country, notes Cox.

To view the summary, go to: http://www.swcs.org/docs/SCG-ExecutiveSummary.pdf

"H.R. 2646 reinforces the status quo in farm policy and takes no steps towarda more universal farm policy based on land stewardship," says Cox. "A managers' amendment is being discussed that may improve some elements of the bill. Plans were to bring H.R. 2646 to the floor this week (Sept. 10, 2001.) But uncertainties surrounding the federal budget may alter that schedule.