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Sign-on for Farm Bill Conservation Programs; Tax Incentive Update

Advocates Alert: February 9, 2012

Two important programs that directly fund land trust purchases of conservation easements -- the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and Grassland Reserve Program -- will cease to exist on October 1st unless Congress extends the Farm Bill conservation programs.* Your signature on a new group letter will help make the case for conservation funding in that bill.

Waiting for the announcement about 300 tax incentive co-sponsors? We have more time to get ready; scroll down for details.

Sign-on to Support Farm Bill Conservation Programs

We're working with a coalition of conservation organizations to send a strong, unified message to House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership that we support the conservation programs in the farm bill. Please help us secure 500 organizational signers by February 24.

To read the letter and sign-on, visit: http://goo.gl/VaokH. (Scroll up for full text)

The letter recommends starting with the Ag Committee leadership's proposal to the deficit reduction super-committee, which provided essentially level funding for agricultural lands easement programs (FRPP & GRP), even as many other ag programs were cut. Read about that proposal.

This year we expect even greater pressure for budget cuts and many want to throw out the November draft and start from scratch, putting entire programs at risk. Our champions need a strong show of support for their proposal.

Please forward this alert to any partner organizations that might sign-on. You can follow the latest list of signers at http://goo.gl/NeBrb.

Read more about our work on the Farm Bill.

Tax Incentive Announcement Next Week

It isn't official yet, but next week we expect Congressmen Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) to announce that we have recruited majorities of both parties as co-sponsors for H.R. 1964, our House bill to make the enhanced tax incentive for conservation easements permanent!

Listen to our strategy call for the inside scoop (.mp3, 26 min, 3 mb).

This brief delay will give us time to prepare for a big media push to advance this bill. On Monday, we will post a sample press release and related materials you can customize for your organization. This is a great opportunity to thank co-sponsors near you by including a quote from them in your release. We’ll send another alert when additional materials are posted at www.lta.org/policy/300.

Thanks for helping.

H.R. 1964 Co-sponsors Added Since Our Last Update

  • Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR)
  • Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR)
  • Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)
  • Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL)
  • Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA)
  • Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)
  • Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI)

See the full list and map at: www.lta.org/easementincentive/cosponsors.

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*Yes, FRPP has a funding “baseline” beyond FY 2012, but unless Congress passes a new farm bill or extends the current one, it will revert to the 1949 Farm Bill on October 1. That law doesn’t authorize any of the conservation programs we know today. Funding levels are the more substantive issue and the main point of the letter, as it’s highly unlikely that Congress will simply allow the farm bill to expire, but in the current political climate it’s not unthinkable that we could see a radically stripped down extension.

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Advocates Alerts

February 12: The House successfully voted 279-137, demonstrating a supermajority (67%) of support, on H.R. 644, a package of charitable incentives including the conservation tax incentive.Now we need your help in the Senate to secure co-sponsors! Sens. Heller and Stabenow have requested land trusts’ assistance in asking senators to cosponsor S. 330, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Learn more »

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