WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger—Chair of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry—today led a hearing focused on the financial and environmental benefits of soil health efforts in the United States.
During the hearing, Spanberger heard from producers and researchers about the economic and risk-mitigation benefits of successful soil health practices. In her opening statement, Spanberger also discussed how soil conservation continues to grow in popularity across Central Virginia. Between 2012 and 2017, Virginia experienced a 35 percent-plus increase in cropland acres planted with cover crops. Additionally, more than one million acres of cropland in Virginia are currently farmed with no-till practices.
“Healthy soil is one of our country’s most vital natural resources, and American crop and livestock producers are on the front lines of the effort to reduce erosion and increase fertility. But this ongoing effort also presents a significant upside for farmers’ bottom lines,” said Spanberger. “Through voluntary soil conservation practices, farmers can often lower their input costs, increase their yields, and make sure their fields are productive for generations to come. Today’s hearing was an opportunity to hear more about how Congress can work in tandem with the USDA to raise awareness about soil stewardship, share best practices, and reduce barriers to the expansion of successful soil health efforts. As Chair of the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee, I look forward to strengthening our Subcommittee’s support for soil management initiatives—and I’ll continue to highlight how farmers and ranchers are working to protect our natural landscapes and to safeguard the long-term viability of our country’s family farms.”
In her opening statement, Spanberger also underscored how soil conservation efforts lead to environmental and health benefits for the public at large. These impacts include greater ecosystem biodiversity, more effective water filtration, reliable food production, and the potential to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Click here for a video of Spanberger recapping the hearing.
Today’s hearing featured witnesses from the Soil Health Partnership, the National Association of Conservation Districts, the National Grazing Lands Coalition, Practical Farmers of Iowa, and the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Last month, Spanberger led her first hearing as Chair, in which she focused on the current state of 2018 Farm Bill conservation program implementation. In her opening statement, Spanberger highlighted the need to accelerate conservation efforts on-the-ground through new authorities in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Spanberger was selected to serve as Chair of the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee in January. The Subcommittee is responsible for legislation related to soil conservation, resource management, forestry, and water quality. In her role as Chair, Spanberger is working to advance priorities on the Subcommittee that are important to Central Virginia’s crop and livestock producers, including issues related to improving soil health and water quality—and she is also focused on examining how farmers can balance conservation programs with the practices they need to grow their businesses.