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Farm Bill Updates & Archive

2014 FarmBill Advocates Updates




The first step to victory for increasing cost-share flexibility for land trust match in the new Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program has been achieved. Senator Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) amendment allows the Secretary of Agriculture to waive any portion of an eligible entity’s required 25% cash contribution which can be matched by an equal increase in a voluntary landowner donation (currently limited to 25%). This is limited to projects of special significance (to be defined by the Secretary);for example historically important agricultural land or critical wildlife habitat. The federal share still cannot exceed 50% of the total value of the total purchase price of the easement. The unanimous passage of Senator Bennet’s amendment was the result of many moving pieces falling into place—the activation of the land trust community, and the Senator’s passionate leadership and support of conservation positioned this issue for success. The amendment was voted on during markup of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, which passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee by a vote of fifteen to five. In the House, a similar amendment (#65) supported by Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Chris Gibson (R-NY) and John Garamendi (D-CA) is being voted on by the Agriculture Committee today.

The key element of this triumph is you—the land trust community. Leaders in conservation from all across the country reached out directly to their members of Congress to help them better understand the importance of their work and the direct relevance that it represents to their surrounding communities. However, this is just the first step. The House amendment must still get through the House Ag Committee and passed in full by both chambers, but your help is what will get this over the finish line.

Read more on the cost-share waiver amendment:


Conservation Program Appropriations

In theory, the funding levels specified by each five-year farm bill are automatic, but the appropriations committees can, and often do, impose caps. These cuts are doubly painful as they also reduce the “baseline” available for conservation programs in the subsequent farm bill. You can help prevent these cuts by getting to know members of the House and Senate appropriations committees from your state, and particularly any members of their agriculture subcommittees (House and Senate lists).

FRPP and GRP weren't cut in the first four years under the 2008 Farm Bill, bringing FRPP to a record $175 million in fiscal year 2011 and allowing GRP to proceed towards its acreage goal of 1.22 million acres. For fiscal year 2012, however, FRPP was cut to $150 million, GRP acreage cap was reduced by 30%, and other conservation programs sustained more severe cuts (chart of cuts from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition). Please see our recent updates for details:

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Advocates Alerts

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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Farm bill merges 2 land programs

March 3, 2014 | Cortez Journal | CO

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February 13, 2014 | The Detroit News | MI

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February 9, 2014 | USA Today

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