Today, the nine month extension of the 2008 Farm Bill expires. This isn’t the first time the farm bill has expired without action. But this time a simple extension seems very unlikely, and the expiration will stop new enrollments in the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and the Grassland Reserve Program. Fortunately, the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program can continue through October of next year, thanks to an extension in the last Ag Appropriations bill. We are still hoping Congress will come up with a new farm bill in the next few months, and we will continue to put pressure on them to do so.
Quick Farm Bill Review and Update:
The Senate voted to send their version (S. 954) of the Farm Bill to conference. On Saturday, the House passed a rule tying its separate farm and nutrition program bills into one (H.R. 2462). Launching negotiations with the Senate on a conference report won’t be easy since the nutrition provisions in the two bills are vastly different. We will keep you informed as things move forward.
The Senate Agriculture Committee announced their conferees last month: Senators Stabenow (D-MI), Leahy (D-VT), Harkin (D-IA), Baucus (D-MT), Brown (D-OH), Klobuchar (D-MN), Bennet (D-CO), Cochran (R-MS), Roberts (R-KS), Chambliss (R-GA), Hoeven (R-ND) and Boozman (R-AR). We are encouraged because there are some real conservation champions included! The House has yet to name their conferees but it is hoped that will take place very soon, paving the way to reconciling the differences in both bills.
The good news is that 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 that land trusts could apply for on farmland easements. The House version does not, which ensures it will be a point of discussion during conference. The Senate version also includes an extra $150 million for conservation easements.
Rally update – Chance to Shine:
In our Farm Bill session at Rally, USDA’s NRCS Farm Bill Liaison, Leslie Deavers, provided us a great reminder of the value of land trusts across the country using social media channels to tell the story of what the Farm Bill means to their community. You can compliment USDA’s effort by using the hash tag #MyFarmBill on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
With the potential of losing the framework and funding for these conservation easement programs, this offers a perfect opportunity for the land trust community and their many successes to shine. Let’s flood the airwaves with your success stories!
There is no way of knowing what time frame we are looking at for a final Farm Bill but please be on the lookout for an alert from us to contact House and Senate conferees. When things start moving and the House names their conferees, it could go quickly and there won’t be much turnaround time. I’ll keep you posted.
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