WASHINGTON (DTN)--In a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman June 30, U.S. Senators Tom Harkin, D-IA, ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Gordon Smith, R-OR, expressed their strong support for the new Conservation Security Program (CSP).

The Senators urged Veneman to publish regulations promptly for the CSP so producers are able to begin signing up before Sept. 30, 2003, as required under the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.

"The CSP creates a new system for rewarding producers who implement and maintain high levels of conservation on agricultural land in production. There is strong bipartisan support for the CSP and producers across the nation are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to participate in the program," Harkin said in a press release.

"Farmers have always been the first and best stewards of the land. Farmers in my state of Oregon are eager to balance their needs with the needs of the environment. The Conservation Security Program provides them with incentive-based tools to achieve both goals," Smith said in a press release.

"It will be far more effective to encourage responsible environmental stewardship through incentives than through fear of punishment."

The CSP is a comprehensive, trade-compatible, national conservation program that benefits the environment and agricultural producers by providing incentives to producers for adopting new conservation practices and maintaining practices on private working lands.

CSP payments to producers are directly related to the level of conservation implemented on the land. The letter urges Veneman to issue regulations that will carry out CSP as a full national program utilizing all of the funds provided by Congress for the CSP.

In addition to Senators Harkin and Smith, the following Senators also signed the letter: Baucus, D-MT, Bond, R-MO, Boxer, D-CA, Breaux, D-LA, Chambliss, R-GA, Coleman, R-MN, Collins, R-ME, Conrad, D-ND, Crapo, R-IN, Dayton, D-MN, DeWine, R-OH, Domenici, R-NM, Feinstein, D-CA, Grassley, R-IA, Landrieu, D-LA, Leahy, D-VT, Lincoln, D- AR, Nelson, D-NE, Pryor, D-AR, Snowe, R-ME, Stabenow, D-MI, and Specter, R-PA.

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