With renewed debate over the farm bill expected to resume soon, more than 150 Minnesota farmers and ranchers have asked Congressman Collin Peterson to defend sustainable-agriculture efforts during its final drafting.

The letter to Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, was initiated by Minnesota’s Land Stewardship Project to defend the nationwide Conservation Stewardship Program. The program helps farmers take steps to preserve water and soil, and maintain wildlife habitat.

Ben Anderson with Minnesota’s Stewardship Project said the Conservation Stewardship Program encourages farming practices such as conservation tillage, multi-species cover cropping, mob grazing and frequent rotations and, “It’s the only, and largest, program in the farm bill that really looks at a comprehensive conservation approach to working lands in ways that improves their soil, limits erosion.”

Anderson noted that Minnesota farmers and ranchers are recognized as leaders in the number of contracts held and acres enrolled in the conservation program. He said the program has been successful because farmers and ranchers can produce on their land, while at the same time instituting conservation practices that make the most sense for their operation because, “You farm, and it helps you farm in the right ways, and that benefits all of the community as well.”

Continued funding is included in the Senate version of the bill but not in the House version. A final version of the farm bill must be voted on by both the House and Senate and signed by the president to become law. The current farm bill expires on September 30th