Thank you for being part of our special team of land trust advocates interested in the Farm Bill. One of my goals is to start communicating with our land trust members on a more frequent, informal basis, especially as things are moving with Congress and the Administration related to agriculture policy. My objective is to ensure you have the most up to date information possible from our work representing land trust interests in Washington, DC, as
well as seeking your help back on the home front with reinforcing
messaging to Members of Congress.
just spent a week in DC with Barton James, the Alliance�s
new Conservation Campaign Director, talking to everyone we could think of
have an interest in the Farm Bill conservation easement programs. I
might be interested in hearing what we learned, plus some other
news for a change. Here�s a quick rundown:
Farm Bill Timing Update:
- House and Senate Ag Committees: We were delighted to learn from staff
that the goal is for the Farm Bill
to be heard in both committees before Memorial Day! The House has
tentatively set May 15 to markup the bill and the Senate has yet to
announce a date. Leadership of both committees has vowed to have a Farm
Bill in place before the extension expires September 30th of
this year. One staffer told us they feared for our programs if we had to
endure another extension.
is very little concern about our
programs within the context of the Farm Bill and a good deal of
for them in general. The battles will be fought over issues other
than conservation but will most certainly challenge available funding.
given serious consideration on how to increase awareness about your
work and may have some additional exciting news for you in the next
or so. Stay tuned!
- I would say keep your fingers crossed
but it�s truly your relationships with your legislators, especially those
on the Ag and Appropriations committees, which hold the key to our success
in defending these programs and securing the necessary dollars to retain
their effectiveness. Be on the lookout for ways to connect with them. More later about that.
Land Trust Farm Bill Priorities:
- Cost Share Flexibility: In recent weeks, both committees have been
open to considering language regarding one of your major issues: increased flexibility for NRCS to
recognize additional landowner donation as match! A special thanks if
you reached out to committee members! Nothing is set in stone and we still
have a significant hill to climb but I am hopeful. Things are going to move
quickly from here on out so I will keep you posted regarding next steps.
- Appropriations Committees: Part and parcel of a successful bill
is secure funding. In this challenging fiscal climate nothing is certain
until these folks are done with their budgeting process. We wanted to
raise the profile of the easement programs and make sure they understood
the positive impact and multiplying effect that this federal investment
has in communities across the country.
- President�s Budget: We were disappointed the president�s budget further increased the
Farm Bill cuts to $38 billion; our fear is that conservation may very well
bear the brunt of such a reduction in funding. There have been some conflicting numbers
surfacing from sequestration and differing budgets but we are still
supporting the $1.58 billion funding level that was identified in the House
version of the bill last year and will continue to push both the House and
Senate for adoption.
- White House Update:
- Council on Environmental Quality & America�s Great Outdoors: It�s important that the
administration also be aware of the effectiveness of protecting these working
landscapes and understands that there is a direct link between this
funding and economic benefit on the ground. I love talking about what you
do -- it was an honor to share some of your success stories! Keep �em comin�!
- Office of Management and Budget: We met with the Natural Resources
Division who deals with NRCS� budget.
I was struck by and heartened to see the number of model tractors
and other assorted toy agricultural paraphernalia scattered around the
office, which was only lacking in certain forms of livestock
representation. I think I may have to remedy that. Seriously though, there
was a great deal of interest in your work on the ground, the positive
impacts to society at large and a hunger to hear more!
I welcome your thoughts and questions!
P.S. This email list is for land trust leaders
that are interested in Farm Bill. Please let me know if there are others at
your land trust or Alliance members in your region who would like to subscribe.
Western Policy Manager | Land Trust Alliance
55810 ME Road | Colbran, CO 81624