From the Farm: Conservation Funding

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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — With the conclusion of the General Assembly session only a few days away, there is a large volume of pending legislation that has not received a vote. And conservation groups are getting nervous because their funding for the year is uncertain.

Senate Bill 2474 creates the Illinois Partners for Nutrient Loss Reduction Act, that helps retain crop nutrients in fields. Kris Reynolds of the American Farmland Trust says the legislation is important to all Illinois farmland and waterways.

“Illinois developed the nutrient loss reduction strategy back in 2015, and since that time there has not been any new funding from the state of Illinois to address some of the nutrient loss concerns coming from non-point sources like agriculture,” said Reynolds. “The fall covers for spring savings program, which is just past its second year has been highly successful getting farmers to adopt more cover crops. And we know from the nutrient loss reduction strategy are one of the in field management practices that can have the biggest impact on reducing nitrate and phosphorus loss.”

COVID has been one of the reasons for the legislative inaction says Grant Hammer of the Soil and Water Associations.

“This year COVID has certainly impacted the Legislature’s ability to meet in person,” said Hammer. “They got a little bit later start than they normally would. And so the legislature is backed up. There is not a lot of legislation moving. And so time is definitely not on our side. There is a sense of urgency and as you said we are in the waning days of this spring session.”

So what happens if this does not get considered? Where do we go?

“We can’t let that happen. The partners for conservation program is set to sunset at the end of June,” said Hammer.

They are urging farmers and conservation advocates to lobby for passage of Senate Bill 2474.

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