Pennsylvania farmers are currently in their "fix-it" season — a period before planting and calving — when they can take stock of what needs to be repaired and improved. Knowing what support is coming down the road makes this planning much smoother.

The state’s more than 59,000 farms provide food across our nation and world. But farmers face a growing list of environmental threats.

The new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows the average extreme minimum winter temperature in Lancaster County is now 5 degrees F warmer. Southwest Pennsylvania is in a different planting zone than 10 years ago.

Warmer temperatures and wind changes spread invasive plant pathogens, and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has raised concerns over prolonged storms leading to crops washing away with loose soil.

In response to these growing threats, PennFuture and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania have joined with farmers to advocate for legislation that reduces costs while improving yields and protecting the environment.

The farm bill faces cuts and changes in Congress unless there is overwhelming support to continue conservation funding that helps farmers and ranchers improve soil, water and air quality.

Congress has turbocharged investments in popular programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program with a $20 billion investment over 10 years through the Inflation Reduction Act. These initiatives will help producers better manage livestock waste, reduce the use of expensive fertilizers, and improve habitats for threatened species such as the bog turtle and golden-winged warbler.

Money is already flowing to producers across our commonwealth for projects like fencing for rotational grazing, stream protections and manure management systems.

The Inflation Reduction Act dollars are designated for practices that will help address climate change and promote conservation. They also help lower costs and increase yields for farmers by helping them shift to no-till and to plant cover crops to rejuvenate the soil and prevent erosion.

In addition, these programs can help producers meet obligations to address pollution in some of our region’s most polluted waterways, such as the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay.

However, while the act’s one-time infusion provides much-needed support, it is critical that we continue this investment in agriculture and our environment.

As Congress continues negotiations over a new five-year farm bill, these funds must be protected and expanded so that we can double down on popular and proven agricultural practices that work for farmers and the environment.

While Congress has already appropriated funding for these programs for the next decade, they are vulnerable from attack by different special interests seeking to influence overall agricultural policy through the farm bill.

We’re asking farmers to stand with us and explain to your congressional representatives just how vital these programs are — not only for good land stewardship, but also to lower costs and increase yields to keep farmers competitive both nationally and globally.

We need the farm bill to increase funding for conservation, not reduce or eliminate it.