New Farm Bill Details, Call Congress Today
The final Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) contains important new tools for land trusts--and a House vote as early as Wednesday evening could decide their fate. This bill:
- Extends the tax incentive for conservation easement donations until December 31, 2009! This two-year extension is retroactive to January 1 and includes no other substantive changes.
- Provides a total of $733 million over 5 years for the Farmland Protection Program (new name but ranch land still eligible). It also clarifies the eligibility of land trusts to participate directly and specifies the following funding levels: $97M in FY08, $121M in FY09, $150M in FY10, $175M in FY11 and $200M in FY12.
- Re-establishes the Grassland Reserve Program with an acreage goal of 1.22 million acres, funded with an estimated $300M.
The only way for us to get these things is for Congress to pass the Farm Bill--and it will need your help!
There are many disappointments for conservation in the Farm Bill, and some organizations may oppose the bill, but top land trust priorities--the programs listed above--do very well if the bill passes.*
How You Can Help:
Please call your Representative (Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121) and convey the following message:
“The Farm Bill contains important provisions for conservation in your district, including a two-year extension of a tax incentive that helps farmers conserve their land. As a [supporter, employee, board member, etc] of [land trust] I urge you to vote for final passage of the Farm Bill, H.R. 2419.”
If your Members of Congress have cosponsored H.R. 1576 or S. 469, be sure to thank them and tell them that the Farm Bill includes a 2-year version of an otherwise identical provision. Thanks to a recent surge, we now have 173 House cosponsors! Check the latest House and Senate lists to see if your delegation has signed on.
The President has made it clear he intends to veto the Farm Bill for reasons that have nothing to do with these conservation provisions. That means contacting your Representative is important because Congress will need to pass the bill with a 2/3 majority to override the veto. Our focus is on the House, where the vote is expected to be closest, but you can also help by asking your Senators for their support.
Thanks for helping at this critical time!