NACD PRESIDENT PALMER TESTIFIES TO CONGRESS ON CONSERVATION PROGRAMS
WASHINGTON – Today, National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) President Tim Palmer testified before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry about the challenges and successes of conservation programs in 2020, including during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Palmer owns and operates a farm near Truro, Iowa, where he and his family produce corn, soy, oats, hay and beef cattle.
“It is important for the Committee to understand how important Conservation Technical Assistance is to the successful implementation of conservation planning and farm bill conservation programs,” Palmer said in his written testimony. He described the success of NACD’s Technical Assistance Grants Program, funded in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in helping to boost technical capacity in conservation districts across the country.
Palmer emphasized the role conservation districts play in coordinating locally-led conservation delivery with NRCS, and that the agency needs greater federal hiring authority to address their staff shortages.
“The conservation delivery partnership between conservation districts, state conservation agencies and NRCS, which has existed for decades and is trusted by landowners across the country, is the gold standard,” Palmer said.
In his testimony, he highlighted to Congress the impact of state and local budget cuts caused by the pandemic on conservation districts. Revenue shortfalls or associated budget cuts often trickle down, causing conservation districts to furlough staff members who often are responsible for customer service.
“Cuts to district funding at the state and local level hit at the heart of district operations and may impact capacity for federal conservation delivery as well,” he said.
Palmer also addressed the opportunities for improving soil health through conservation programs, describing NACD’s soil health economics case studies and the way soil health conservation practices improve not only the local landscape, but local infrastructure and the local economy as well.
“It is clear to me that conservation has a crucial role to play, not only for benefits to the environment, but as an engine as we look to recover and rebuild our economy,” he said.
Archived video footage of Palmer’s testimony is available on the Committee’s YouTube channel.
The National Association of Conservation Districts is the nonprofit organization that represents the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts, their state and territory associations and the 17,000 men and women who serve on their governing boards. For more than 70 years, local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. For more information about NACD, visit: www.nacdnet.org.