Take Action

Help Save the Enhanced Easement Incentive!


Learn More
Policy Principles
You are here: Home / Policy Action / Public Funding / Our Take on the House Farm Bill

Our Take on the House Farm Bill

Update: July 11, 2012

The House Agriculture Committee begins its mark-up of the Farm Bill today! The Chairman and Ranking Member released a draft bill and summary last week, and you can watch today's markup live.

As the summary shows, the Farm Bill is a big enterprise, and farmland protection is only a small part of it. Of course, we are following that small part closely, and can tell you that:

  1. The House draft includes several important changes to the Agricultural Land Easements program (successor to FRPP & GRP) that the Land Trust Alliance, American Farmland Trust, Partnership of Rangeland Trusts, the Trust for Public Land, and the Nature Conservancy asked for. These changes include the provisions of the Bennet/Crapo amendment that we won in the Senate and will make the program friendlier for land trusts and for landowners.
  2. The House draft increased the funding devoted toward the purchase of farm and ranch easements over what the Senate provided in its bill. Given the fiscal pressures now at work on the federal budget, this is truly amazing.
  3. Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY), Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) and other committee members advocated for these changes (and others) with the House Agriculture Committee staff, and should be thanked for helping advance farmland conservation.
  4. We did not succeed in adding flexibility to the match requirements, such that landowners could donate more value in place of cash match from local land trusts and governments.  Our friends on the committee carefully considered proposing an amendment on this issue -- but decided against it. We gather they got strong pushback from the committee staff. It's a bit of a letdown not to have an amendment to push, but they did give us 8 of the 10 things we had asked them for -- AND they added about $200 million to the program!
  5. There will not be an amendment to raise the tight funding caps added to the Forest Legacy and Community Forest programs, but the Senate language is already good and we're optimistic about our chances in conference.
  6. So far, none of the 99 amendments offered in committee appear to make further cuts to conservation -- that's a victory unto itself.

We will keep you informed on how it goes, but we fully expect the committee to pass a bill that will have very good provisions for farm and ranch land protection.

Previous Update: July 6, 2012

Last night, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) released their draft of the Farm Bill, slated for committee consideration starting Wednesday, July 11. We're pleased to see that their proposal closely mirrors Senate plans for an Agricultural Land Easements program that merges the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and Grassland Reserve Program. A few issues remain, however, and we're working on an amendment.  We'll provide more details soon, but wanted to share our initial assessment of the bill:


The House bill cuts overall spending by $35 billion, $12 billion more than the Senate version. Thus we consider it a remarkable success that the House's conservation cuts are similar to the Senate's--about $6 billion. Better yet, Agricultural Land Easements would see slightly better funding in later years, bringing its total funding to $1.58 billion over the next decade.

Clarifying Ownership

We are pleased that the House bill includes language from the Bennet/Crapo amendment we won in the Senate. That language clarifies that USDA is providing funds for eligible entities to purchase easements, not purchasing them itself. Thus items 3-6 on the fact sheet we circulated last week have already been adopted, leaving us to focus on the first two items.

Fixing the Match Requirements

The House draft does not include our proposals to restore the 2008 cost share formula and waive the local cash match requirement on projects of special significance. We are currently working on an amendment to add this language in next Wednesday's committee markup. Look for an Advocates alert early next week with details on how you can help.

Forest Legacy & Community Forest Caps

Early in the Senate process, we succeeded in greatly increasing the authorization limits that had been added to the Forest Legacy and Community Forest programs. Unfortunately, the House bill brings those caps back, at $55 million for Forest Legacy and $1.5 million for Community Forests. To clarify, these aren't dedicated funding levels (as is the case for ALE), but caps on appropriations, so funding can easily go down, but never up. We're working with partners to see if this can be fixed.

Do you have any other concerns about the House draft? Please let us know!

Along with our one good amendment, we anticipate there will be attempts to slash conservation funding. Please contact Lynne Sherrod (lsherrod@lta.org) if you have any questions or would like to receive our farm bill updates.

Document Actions
Bookmark and Share
Advocates Alerts

February 12: The House successfully voted 279-137, demonstrating a supermajority (67%) of support, on H.R. 644, a package of charitable incentives including the conservation tax incentive.Now we need your help in the Senate to secure co-sponsors! Sens. Heller and Stabenow have requested land trusts’ assistance in asking senators to cosponsor S. 330, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Learn more »

View Past Alerts Sign-up Now
Congress wrestles with tax breaks for open space

July 29, 2014 | Poughkeepsie Journal | NY

House passes Gerlach conservation tax break bill, now up to Senate

July 18, 2014 | The Mercury News | Pottstown, PA

The Time is Now for Congress to Act on Conservation

July 15, 2014 | Politico | Washington, D.C.

eNews Sign-up » More News »

1660 L St. NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036 info@lta.org ©Copyright 2015 Land Trust Alliance

Privacy Policy | Photo Credits | Site Map | Contact Us