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Four Days to Make a Good Farm Bill Even Better

eNews Policy Update: May 16, 2012

Senator Bennet with peach farmers in Colorado

Inspired by a recent visit to conserved peach orchards in Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) is championing fixes for land trusts in the Senate. Credit: Mesa Land Trust


Last month, by a bipartisan vote of 16-5, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved a modified draft of its 2012 Farm Bill that merges the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) and Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) while maintaining funding in a tough budget climate.

The Senate bill is a good first step and Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) already succeeded in raising a cap on the Forest Legacy Program. We continue working with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to fix two important usability issues for land trusts and landowners as the bill heads to the Senate floor, but attention is already shifting to the House, where everything is on the table.

Send Comments to the House Agriculture Committee – Deadline May 20


Today, our best opportunity to improve the bill is through House Agriculture Committee. They’ve made it easy for you with an online comment form, available through Sunday.

The best talking points are specific anecdotes about how Farm Bill programs have supported conservation in your area. Even if you haven't yet worked with these programs, we hope you’ll speak up to protect the largest source of federal funding for land trusts.

Here are three talking points to adapt, personalize, and send via the House Ag comment form:

  • Please support the Senate funding levels for Agricultural Land Easements, which advance the proven model of leveraging federal funds through local partners to secure perpetual conservation easements that help keep farm and ranch lands in production, while conserving important natural resources.
  • Restore the existing FRPP match formula to encourage bargain sales and allow waivers of the match requirements for strategic projects.
  • Restore language clarifying that the federal government is not acquiring a real property interest and has only a “contingent right of enforcement."

More resources to inform your comments or forward to staff

In addition to filling out the comment form, we encourage you reach out directly to members of the House Agriculture Committee from your area. Please contact Lynne Sherrod (lsherrod@lta.org) to discuss strategy for your Representative or if you’d like to sign-up for our Farm Bill email list.

Follow the latest Farm Bill news at: www.lta.org/farmbill.

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Advocates Alerts

July 17: The House just voted 277-130 to pass the charities package! 56 Democrats joined their Republican colleagues to support charitable giving incentives, including the enhanced easement incentive - the second-highest number of defections after the research and development tax credit. Several others spoke on the floor in support of the conservation easement incentive, and other favorable charitable incentives. Thank you to organizations like Ducks Unlimited, CSF and others that reached out to Congressional offices over the last few days or alerted their membership of this important vote. Now, we pivot to the Senate.
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