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Grassland Reserve Program Rule Published, Taxes on Agenda as Congress Returns

Advocates Alert: November 29, 2010

Even as Congress gets back to work on must-pass year-end legislation, we expect the administration will keep us busy with releases of farm bill program rules and the America's Great Outdoors report. Today the final rule for the Grassland Reserve Program was published and we need your prompt feedback to influence the implementation manual.

Your Feedback Needed on Grassland Reserve Program Final Rule

Today the Department of Agriculture published its final rule for the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), which protects grazing lands and grassland conservation values through conservation easements, rental contracts and restoration cost-share agreements.  Annual investments of as much as $100 million make GRP one of the largest federal programs for private lands conservation, and it will have conserved over 1.7 million acres through 2012.

The final rule released today, is the next step in implementing the 2008 Farm Bill, which for the first time allows land trusts to write, hold, and enforce GRP-funded easements.  If your organization has an interest in GRP, please take a close look at the rule and email your concerns to Lynne Sherrod (lsherrod@lta.org), who will be taking the lead on our Farm Bill work.

We may have only a few days to influence the manual, which will provide additional guidance to the NRCS field staff who implement this program.  If you see points in the rule where additional guidance or particular interpretations could make a critical difference in the usability of the program, please let us know as soon as possible.

Of course some problematic provisions can only be addressed by changing the law, but we'll have our chance soon enough as Congress begins work on the 2012 Farm Bill.  Your comments about changes we should seek are much appreciated.

We also expect final rules for the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) in the next few weeks.

Congress Returns for Critical White House Meeting on Taxes

On the surface it may appear that little has changed since we first sought your help getting a permanent easement incentive and estate tax incentives for conservation included in a lame-duck tax bill, but deep within the Capitol complex, staffers are hard at work putting that package together -- and today we need your help more than ever.

Tomorrow, President Obama will meet with Congressional leaders to hammer out a strategy for the lame duck session, and tax legislation is at the top of their agenda.  By the time news of a tax bill compromise reaches your local newspaper, it may already be too late to get provisions like the easement incentive included, so if you haven't yet gotten your Senators and Representatives to weigh in with the leaders of the Senate Finance and House Ways & Means Committees, today is the critical day to follow-up.

We've posted all the latest talking points and email attachments here: www.lta.org/easementincentive.

Thanks for helping!


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