Readers of this column know that AFT played a major role in the 2014 Farm Bill. Our work helped to safeguard the largest federal investment in private lands conservation.
Mandatory Conservation Funding
The Farm Bill eliminated nearly a dozen conservation programs and reduced mandatory funding by $6 billion, a major cut. Despite these reductions, conservation spending is under attack this year from multiple fronts: Continue reading →
AFT Supports Vision for Cover Crops and Soil Health
American Farmland Trust has joined a diverse coalition of agriculture and conservation groups in delivering ”A Common Vision Statement on Cover Crops and Soil Health” to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to urge further work on cover crops and soil health across relevant department agencies and major program areas.
“Cover crops and soil health have been capturing the attention and involvement of farmers and organizations all across the U.S.,” stated the groups. “These practices represent a systems-based approach to enhancing crop production and profitability, protection of soil and water resources, and land stewardship.” Continue reading →
The House of Representatives and the Senate this week passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund government agencies through December 11. Because Congress failed to pass any appropriations bills before the end of fiscal year 2014, a CR was necessary to pass to avoid a government shutdown. The CR passed in the House and Senate maintains spending at current levels. Continue reading →
Note—American Farmland Trust’s Farm Policy Roundup will not be published next week in observance of the Labor Day holiday. The next edition will be published on Friday, September 5.
American Farmland Trust Conference Is Just Around the Corner, Don’t Miss Out!
Did you know American Farmland Trust’s National Farmland, Food and Livable Communities conference in Lexington, KY begins in less than two months? We have an exciting line up of workshops in store for you that will explore important topics ranging from farmland protection policy and community food security to farmland succession and the next generation of farmers.
And keynote speakers will share their experiences and expertise on compelling issues in farming and food. Just this week, conference keynote speaker and photographer Jim Richardson was featured discussing his work in National Geographic’s Proof series. Hear his discussion and have a preview of just part of what is in store for you. Don’t delay–early-bird registration ends September 1.
Join American Farmland Trust and more than 70 local and national leaders to network, strategize and share best practices to support family farmers, protect farmland and strengthen community food systems. Keynote, plenary and workshop sessions are organized around four cross-cutting themes:
Conserving Farmland and Growing Smart
Supporting Agriculture and Community Food Security
Helping the Next Generation Succeed in Agriculture
Promoting Farmland Succession and Access to Land
Join us in Lexington to craft next steps to advance your work in these areas and to enjoy Kentucky’s famous hospitality. Other conference highlights include two bus tours: Urban, Bourbon & Brew and Saving the Bluegrass, a Kentucky Proud reception and Farm Fresh banquet.
At the end of July on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, American Farmland Trust (AFT) convened a small group of women farm owners to share experiences with each other, expand their knowledge of conservation, and learn about innovative practices being tested by the University of Maryland.
With record numbers of women taking over ownership of farms across the country, AFT hosts these women’s learning circles in the Mid-West and now in the Mid-Atlantic. “Women landowners are committed conservationists,” said Jim Baird, the Mid-Atlantic regional director for AFT. “We want to provide a comfortable place where women, many of whom are new landowners, can come together to ask questions about conservation, and how they can get assistance.” Continue reading →
U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces RCPP Projects for Full Proposals
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that 230 projects will be invited to submit full proposals for program funding under the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). American Farmland Trust is leading or supporting 5 projects in multiple states which are eligible for a full proposal. Continue reading →
When USDA launched the Regional Conservation Partnership Program several months ago, we talked about our hope that this new way of doing business would build coalitions of unlikely partners and bring new money and resources for conservation projects to the table.
The overwhelmingly positive response to this new approach has far exceeded our initial expectations. Over the past several months, nearly 5,000 partners have come together to submit nearly 600 pre-proposals to USDA. All told, these coalitions of partners requested more than six times the $394 million in funding available from USDA for the first round of conservation projects, in addition to bringing their own, matching resources to the table. Continue reading →
Congress Enters Recess without Finishing Appropriations, Tax Extenders
Congress begins a month-long recess today, leaving many issues to address when legislators return in September. Legislation left unfinished includes fiscal year 2015 agriculture appropriations and permanent extension of the enhanced conservation easement deduction which expired last year. American Farmland Trust worked with our allies to advance these priorities. Together, both pieces of legislation are essential for continued protection of our nation’s working farm and ranch land. Continue reading →
House Passes Permanent Enhanced Conservation Deduction
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4719, a tax package to encourage charitable giving. Included in the bill were provisions of H.R. 2807, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Originally sponsored by Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), H.R. 2807 would make permanent an enhanced conservation easement deduction for landowners donating conservation easements. The Conservation Easement Incentive Act had broad bi-partisan support in the House with 222 co-sponsors and the larger charitable tax package passed in the House by a vote of 277 to 130. Companion legislation to H.R. 2807, S. 526, is currently pending in the U.S. Senate where the next vote will occur in order for the enhanced deduction to become permanent.
American Farmland Trust continues to support the enhanced deduction as Congress considers “tax extenders” legislation. AFT is also pursuing broader tax reform, specifically changes to the estate tax that would benefit farmland conservation. Continue reading →