If you are receiving this email you are part of my Farm Bill team or you work in a district that is represented by a member of the House Agriculture Committee. The Ag Committee is, in part, responsible for the outcome of the final Farm Bill…and we hope there is one coming soon!
Farm Bill Review:
The Senate voted to send their version (S. 954) of the Farm Bill to conference, while the House has not done so with their bill (H.R. 2462). Senate Democrats announced their selected conferees last week; including some real conservation champions! However, Senate Republicans haven’t yet selected their conferees. House conferees won’t be appointed until after they return from August recess on Sept 9, three weeks before the current extension expires.
But there is something you can do if you live or work in a state with a Senate conferee – here is a template letter for you to personalize in an email or to help frame a phone call to Senate Ag staffers.
Both chambers have passed very similar language regarding the newly defined Agriculture Land Easement program, with one notable exception. The Senate bill contains the cost share waiver and the House version does not, which means it will be a point of discussion during conference. In addition, the Senate version includes an extra $150 million for conservation easements.
Recent intel suggests that (a) no one wants another extension (hooray!) but time is running out, and (b) if the House doesn’t pass a nutrition bill soon, they make take up the Senate version in conference…although that route seems fraught with challenges for any number of reasons.
But you can help affect a positive outcome!
If your representative is a member of the House Ag Committee then, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to call them today and ask for the ag staffer and request two things:
- While it’s fair to share the fiscal pain, tell them that the conservation easement programs (Agriculture Conservation Easement Programs – ACEP) have taken enough hits and to please hold the line at no more cuts to these essential programs;
- Please call the House Agriculture Committee Staff and tell them it’s important to include the cost share waiver in the final conference version. This should be an easy ask because they don’t have to record a vote or put their name on a bill.
No one can better explain the amount of resources that land trusts have invested in these projects than those of you are utilizing these funds! I am very interested to know what else you might be hearing and how these conversations go!
It is critically important that the House understand the importance of passing a five year Farm Bill to their constituents, which provides the single largest source of federal funding for private land conservation. If this matters to you, please call your congressman/woman and let them know! We have prepared a fact sheet to share with him/her.
Starting Monday, Congress will be in recess for the next five weeks and legislators will be home making the rounds. This is a perfect opportunity to invite them on a tour of your projects, attend events where they are scheduled, or arrange to visit with them and their staff in person! Make sure they know who you are, the great work your organization is accomplishing and how important these programs are to folks back home.
I realize that there is a lot going on right now in terms of federal policy and I apologize if you are feeling barraged with requests. The reality is that we can’t control timing of any of these issues and seek only to keep you informed so that you may act upon those that are most important to your work.
Jason Weller, who was acting Chief of NRCS has officially dropped ‘acting’ from his title! He has a long history of on-the-ground experience in conservation programs and we are looking forward to working with him in the future. Congrats Chief Weller!
Continue to check our Farm Bill page and follow me on for the most recent updates.
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 | Collbran, CO 81624
970-487-9924 | Email