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 →
American Farmland Trust Supports Climate Smart Agriculture Initiative
American Farmland Trust Supports Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture
New partnerships to address climate change were announced this week at the United Nations Climate Summit, including the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture. Held in New York, the U.N. Climate Summit was attended by leaders from around the globe as well as finance, business, civil society and local leaders from public and private sectors. The summit sets the stage for an ambitious global agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.
One outcome of the summit is the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture. The Alliance is a new effort to promote greater international engagement on ways agriculture can help mitigate the impact of climate change. The Alliance brings together governments, businesses, farmers’ organizations, civil society groups, research bodies and intergovernmental entities to address food security in the face of climate change.
American Farmland Trust is supporting this effort through the North American Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture which was also announced at the U.N. Climate Summit. The three-year North American initiative will give farmers, ranchers and foresters the opportunity to collaborate with industry, academia, government and NGO partners in developing ways to improve production resiliency and mitigate current and future risks of changing climatic conditions. 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 →
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.
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 →
Congress enters its final week of legislative session on July 28 before entering a month-long recess August 1. While key votes have been taken in recent weeks to approve multiple appropriations bills and to extend important tax provisions, it appears unlikely that further Congressional action will occur this summer.
This week, Congressional leaders announced intent to pass a short term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), through mid-November, to keep the federal government operational into fiscal year 2015 (FY15). The FY15 Agriculture Appropriations bill has not been considered on the floor of either chamber. The House voted last week to permanently extend important charitable and conservation tax incentives, including the Enhanced Conservation Easement Deduction, however it is unlikely the Senate will consider tax extenders until November. 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 →
Regional Conservation Partnership Program Pre-Proposal Deadline July 14
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting pre-proposals for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) through Monday, July 14.
NRCS is advises partners to submit pre-proposals via email or postal mail. The Grants.gov website will be down for maintenance the weekend of July 12- 14, 2014. This means that applicants will NOT be able to submit proposals via Grants.gov after today, July 11. For any applicants submitted between July 12 -14, please submit through email at RCPP@wdc.usda.gov or postal mail.