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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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June 12: In Historic First, Conservation Tax Incentive Approved by Committee

We are one step closer to making the incentive permanent, but we now need to convince House leadership that this is a priority for their members and should be brought to the floor for a vote ASAP. Please consider signing your land trust onto this letter by Independent Sector asking all members of the House to vote for the conservation tax incentive and two other charitable provisions.
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