Bill is currently being debated in the Senate
and will be up for a final vote very soon.
The Nature Conservancy supports the bill
as passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Cutting funding below that level would
jeopardize America’s entire system of successful
agriculture and forestry conservation programs.
Contact your Senators to ask them to
support the bill as drafted
Protecting Land, Improving Water and Habitat
The Farm Bill represents—by far—the nation’s
largest investment supporting the voluntary and
successful conservation, restoration and
management of America’s private lands. These
activities are critical to a strong economy,
healthy and productive rural lands and vibrant
percent of the land in the lower 48 states is
privately owned. Nearly 900 million acres, or
roughly half of the land in the contiguous
United States, are cropland, rangeland or
pasture land and eligible for Farm Bill
programs. Another 430 million acres, or 54
percent of America’s forests, are privately
owned, making forestland another key resource
for the Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill is the most important
legislation for conserving private lands in
America. It provides incentives to farmers,
ranchers and other private landowners that
result in cleaner water, improved soil
conservation, enhanced wildlife habitat and
outdoor recreation opportunities, increased
flood control and economic benefits for local
communities and rural economies.
In the current climate of fiscal austerity, we understand that cuts
need to be made to discretionary
spending programs such as the Farm Bill.
However, Farm Bill Conservation
programs should not bear a
disproportionate share of those cuts
relative to both the overall Farm Bill
and all discretionary spending.
Farm Bill conservation programs account
for just 7 percent of Farm Bill funding.
For FY 2012 the Senate Appropriations
Committee would cut conservation
programs by 12 percent, or $756 million.
The House-passed cuts would be even
deeper, at over $900 million.
In the upcoming Farm Bill, the
Conservation, Energy and Forestry Titles
must be maintained at the 2008 Farm Bill
funding levels to the greatest extent
Short-changing these programs will
result in increased soil erosion, poorer
water quality, loss of wildlife habitat,
increased flooding and harmful impacts
to landowners and rural economies.
Farm Bill: Top Three Priorities
and Restore Key Habitats –Improve the
conservation of wetlands, grasslands and private
forests by maintaining funding for easements,
with a special emphasis placed on permanent
easements and the Wetlands Reserve Program
(WRP), Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) and Farm
and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP).
Easement Programs are critical to the
conservation of wetlands, grasslands,
floodplains and private forests. Status: On
April 26, 2012 the Senate Agriculture Committee
passed a bill with $2.2 billion over five years
for the WRP, GRP and FRPP. Congress should
maintain these funding levels. (WHIP).
Improve Environmental Management
– Enhance the management of private
lands through Working Lands Programs, which work
by improving stewardship practices and providing
technical assistance and cost-share programs on
working agricultural and private non-industrial
forest lands. Status: Funding should be
maintained at the levels passed by the Senate
Agriculture Committee for these programs,
especially the Environmental Quality Incentives
Program (EQIP) and Wildlife Habitat Incentives
Program (WHIP), which were combined in Senate
committee action and funded at $100 million per
Target Key Resource Issues –
Direct a higher percentage of Farm Bill funding
to address resource issues of special
significance in priority landscapes and
watersheds, and structure programs to achieve
local and landscape-scale environmental
benefits. Such focused investments of Farm Bill
resources will result in greater conservation
outcomes, increased economic benefits and better
returns for American taxpayers. Status: The
regional partnership program model in the Senate
Agriculture Committee bill is a good way to
target Farm Bill resources based on both
national and state priorities.
Discourage Conversion of Grazing
Lands to Marginal Cropland – A strong
Sodsaver program will prevent the conversion of
native grasslands to row crops. Status: The
Senate Agriculture Committee bill contains a
provision for the Sodsaver program, which the
full Senate and the House should support.
Strengthen Conservation Compliance
– Strengthen conservation compliance to
prevent conversion of significant and sensitive
habitats, with special emphasis placed on
removing incentives to drain wetlands and
convert native prairie or grasslands to
cropland. Congress should once again link
conservation compliance with crop insurance, as
it was before the 1995 Farm Bill. Status:
The Senate Agriculture Committee bill did not
include such a provision, but the full Senate
and the House should ensure it is included in
the final bill.