Soil Conservation Act Turns 85
On April 27, 1935, Congress passed Public Law 74-46, in which it recognized that “the wastage of soil and moisture resources on farm, grazing, and forest lands. . .is a menace to the national welfare,” directing the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to establish the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) as a permanent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency. In 1994, SCS became known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The Soil Conservation Act also laid the groundwork for many of U.S. Soy’s sustainability initiatives.
Today, U.S. soybean production is based on a national system of sustainability and conservation laws and regulations combined with careful implementation of best production practices by U.S. soy farmers, who have long been the advocates of Mother Earth by practicing such conservation practices as cover crops, no-till, strip till, terraces, grass waterways and buffer strips. Such methods allow farmers to use less water, prevent soil erosion, and decrease energy use.
Most U.S. soybean producers participate in certified and audited voluntary sustainability and conservation programs. The U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), launched in 2013 as a response to customer requests for a supply of documented sustainable soy, is an aggregate approach audited by third parties that verifies sustainable soybean production at a national scale. Sustainability, once seen as a potential trade barrier, has turned out to be a strong competitive advantage for U.S. Soy and a large percentage of U.S. soy exports are now verified sustainable.