Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2012 Farm Bill Discussions Offer New Opportunities for Environmental and Agricultural Sustainability

The Northeast-Midwest Institute and The Horinko Group have completed the first phase of what could potentially evolve into a multiphase effort to develop a sustainable, mutual working relationship among agricultural and conservation stakeholders who have not traditionally collaborated on Farm Bill-related issues.  The two organizations launched a scoping project this spring to: (1) forge a better understanding among representatives of the environmental and farming communities with respect to their Farm Bill interests; (2) understand and help improve the level of trust among those parties; and (3) develop a consensus centered upon common 2012 Farm Bill interests (which could then productively inform the legislative Farm Bill debate). 
The preliminary scoping phase of the project and its outcomes are described in a May 23 report, which concludes that an opportunity exists within which agricultural and conservation parties can negotiate Farm Bill issues productively – if those negotiations are conducted within an interest-based atmosphere.  Specifically, there exist at least 17 Farm Bill-related issue areas on which substantial progress toward meeting common interests might be realized.  And there appears to be a “critical mass” of enough parties, representing a diverse enough suite of Farm Bill stakeholders, that successful interest-based negotiations can proceed. 
The report, entitled "The Next Farm Bill: New Opportunities for Environmental and Agricultural Sustainability," can be read or downloaded here in its entirety (as a PDF file). Recommendations are offered to help facilitate a successful outcome to any subsequent negotiation phases.

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