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Farm Bill Rules, Tax Incentive Survey, New Intern

Advocates Alert: January 23, 2009

Farm Bill Conservation Program Rules Published

This week, the Natural Resources Conservation Service published "interim final rules" to guide the implementation of the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) and the Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) as modified by the 2008 Farm Bill. Together, these programs will dedicate over a billion dollars over the next 5 years for the purchase of easements on working lands and your land trust may be eligible to participate. Copies of these rules, and several others, can be found on our Farm Bill Conservation Programs page.

These "interim final" rules are open to public comment, and could be delayed if the new Administration thinks it's important to change them.  We need your help reviewing them! Please email policy@lta.org if you identify important issues in the new rules.

For help interpreting these rules and information on funding a particular project, please contact your state conservationist.

Survey Results: Easement Incentive Helps Boost Conservation by 535,000 Acres

We want to share some exciting results from our recent survey of nearly 500 land trusts.  Together, these land trusts put 535,000 more acres into conservation easements in the first two years with the new tax incentive for conservation easements than in the previous two years – a 36% increase!  The number of easements grew by 6,000, which is nearly 2,000 more than were added in 2004-2005. View more details from the survey.

While the new tax incentive isn't the only factor in this increase, land trusts tell us it was a big one!   These statistics should be very helpful in demonstrating to Congress just how valuable the incentive is.  As we mentioned earlier this week, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) will soon introduce legislation to make the incentive permanent.  Please ask your Members of Congress to be original cosponsors of these bills. Click here for talking points, fact sheets and more.

Even if your Representative cosponsored last year, they have to sign on again in the new Congress. They won't just do it automatically -- they need to be asked to do it -- by you!

Please Welcome Jessica Schley, Our New Policy Intern

Between now and May, you'll be hearing a new voice out of our DC office.  Jessica Schley will be assisting our work on the easement incentive and other policy priorities.  Jessica is an American Studies and Conservation and Resource Studies double major at University of California, Berkeley. She grew up on a working cattle ranch conserved by California's Williamson Act, so she's particularly interested in meeting conservationists out West.  Please introduce yourself when you have a chance!  Her e-mail is jschley@lta.org, and her phone extension is 349.

Thanks for helping!

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Advocates Alerts

July 10: House Vote on Conservation Tax Incentive Coming Soon

The House of Representatives will vote on the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, perhaps as early as next week. Whether you use this incentive or not, this is an unprecedented opportunity for the entire House of Representatives to vote specifically on whether or not to help land trusts. Every vote will count, and we urge you to call your congressional office and ask your representative to support H.R. 2807 when it comes to the floor – and to get as many others as possible in your land trust and its local partners to do the same.
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