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Since most no-tillers probably already qualify for payments, the new 2002 farm bill offers plenty of opportunities and should lead to further expansion of no-tilled acres. But if you’re just no-tilling corn and soybeans, don’t expect that rotation to automatically meet the necessary government criteria in all states.
In mid-May, President George W. Bush signed the 6-year Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) at an anticipated total cost of $190 billion. That represents a 77 percent increase over existing programs, while new and expanded conservation programs account for 20 percent of the total package.
Jerry Crew believes the new farm bill will have a tremendous impact on no-tilled acres. While actual incentives will depend on the actions of local conservation officials, the 600-acre no-tiller from Webb, Iowa, says more dollars will be available to entice farmers to make a 5-year commitment to continuous no-till.
“Once they no-till for 5 years, they’ll never go back to tillage,” says Crew.
However, Crew says no-tillers will need to work hard to encourage many Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employees to shy away from recommending farm terraces, contours, waterways and other erosion-control practices instead of no-till.
“We’ve been using that approach for 60 years and it hasn’t solved the erosion problem,” he says. “In many cases, it’s gotten worse because we’re now row-cropping continuously.”
Another positive for no-tillers is that the Conservation Security Act portion of the 2002 Farm Bill offers direct payments based on conservation practices that are…