Farmers and ranchers from around the state are asking the U.S. Senate to preserve conservation programs in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Nearly 50 farmers from around the state signed a letter in support of conservation and crop insurance practices, which was sent to Sen. Pat Roberts, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, according to a release from the Center for Rural Affairs.

The letter asks the Senate to protect the funding and programs in the Conservation Title of the farm bill, especially working lands programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

The House version of the bill eliminates CSP, merging it with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Under the House bill, current CSP contracts will be honored, but new contracts will be programs under EQIP.

Both programs currently incentivize farm and ranch improvements, but in different ways.

The Senate version of the bill has not been finished and released. Kansas farmers who signed the letter are urging Roberts to keep full funding for conservation programs and crop insurance.

“As farmers and ranchers in Kansas, we write to you with concerns about the future of conservation programs authorized in Title II of the Farm Bill,” the letter said. “The recent version of this omnibus legislation that came out of the House Agriculture Committee strikes a serious blow to working lands conservation programs.”

The farmers said risk is major barrier for producers when implementing conservation practices on their operations, but they “know from experience that conservation practices reduce on-farm risk and enhance profitability.”

“Therefore, incentives for innovation and investment are vital to build and maintain a resilient agriculture – particularly in the face of volatile weather, adapting pests, and increased demand for food,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by 13 farmers in Reno County, along with farmers and ranchers from Barton, Brown, Cheyenne, Ellis, Gray, Greenwood, Harper, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kingman, Lane, Logan, Thomas, McPherson, Nemaha, Pawnee, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Rice, Russell, Saline, Sherman, Scott and Washington counties.