Wednesday, November 6, 2013

American Farmland Trust: Farm Bill Agricultural Easement Funding At Risk

Congressional Conferees began work last week on resolving differences between the Senate and House provisions in the federal Farm Bill, but now the American Farmland Trust has learned funding for agricultural land easements may be at risk and AFT is urging all Pennsylvania groups and citizens with an interest in this issue to contact Congressman Glenn Thompson who represents the 5th District which stretches from Bellefonte to Erie.
Here are some specifics--
Support a strong conservation title as part of a final farm bill conference report. Funding for conservation programs are vital for continued farmland protection efforts at the federal, state and local levels.
— Urge to retain the 40 percent funding floor for agricultural land easements (ALE) within the newly combined Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) as provided for in the House-passed bill.
— Urge retaining the funding level for the ACEP as provided for in the Senate-passed bill. This compromise will provide adequate resources to continue protecting our nation’s economically important working agricultural lands.
— The practical effect of the funding floor would be to protect a reasonable amount of funding for agricultural easements on working lands on a nationwide basis while still allowing individual state NRCS offices the flexibility to concentrate on the types of easements most important to their situation.  
— This is an important feature since farmland protection baseline is being used to fund the ACEP going forward and will ensure ALE funding in the range of $840 to $880 million over five years while still providing a range of $1.2 to $1.3 billion for wetlands easements.
— By including the highest level of funding available for ACEP, adequate resources would be provided for the combined function of the program so that our productive farmlands, our pristine grasslands and our valuable wetlands can continue to be protected under easements.
— Providing these resources will help further reduce the threat to these lands that sustain us with food, wildlife and clean water.
Congressman Thompson represents all or parts of these counties: Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Huntingdon, Jefferson, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Venango and Warren.
Click Here to email Congressman Thompson if you live in his district.  Or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for his office.   It is important to speak directly with staff handling agriculture issues.

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