Victory on Two Amendments as Senate Sends Farm Bill to the House
On Wednesday, two resounding wins on amendments demonstrated that conservation remains a bipartisan priority in the Senate. Thank you for making this victory possible! The House, meanwhile, has delayed its consideration of the bill until after the Independence Day recess, so you have an extra opportunity to ask your Rep. to support our priorities.
Forest Legacy Cut Rejected, Ag Easements Improved, Farm Bill Passed
This afternoon the Senate voted 64 - 35 to approve its version of the Farm Bill, providing at least $1.38 billion over 10 years for Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), a new program that merges the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and Grassland Reserve Program. In a promising sign, there were no amendments to cut ALE and two key votes went our way:
- The Senate voted 21-77 to reject an amendment by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have eliminated the Forest Legacy Program. See how your senators voted.
- Later, they unanimously agreed to an amendment by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) to clarify the federal role in funding land trust purchases of Agricultural Land Easements.
If you spoke with your Senators about these issues, please thank them for listening to you!
Other amendments to help land trusts that were not considered include Bennet/Crapo #2203 to reduce the matching funds required for ALE and Merkley/Collins #2371 to allow land trusts to hold Forest Legacy easements. However, we've demonstrated substantial support in the Senate and are working hard to get this language included in the House version of the bill.
These amendment votes and strong funding for ag easements amidst fiscal austerity wouldn't have been possible without your support. Thanks for building relationships with your Senators.
House Action in July, Make the Most of Independence Day Recess
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) is now expected to release his version of the Farm Bill in early July for Committee votes on July 11. That gives us another week to connect with members of the House Agriculture Committee, defend the Senate's strong funding levels, and push for amendments the Senate left out. Here are some key resources:
- Specific language we'd like to see included in the House bill
- Talking points on proposed changes to Agricultural Land Easements
- Letter from 523 organizations urging the House to hold-the-line on conservation funding
The Independence Day recess is a great opportunity to ask for an in-district meeting or invite your Rep. to see the land you've conserved. Click here for our guide to in-district events.
Thanks for helping.
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