What’s on the Farmer’s Plank?
This year’s presidential election is occurring during an important time in our country’s history: rising global food demand, spiking fuel and food prices, and the ever-present threat of development are putting more pressure on our producers and farm and ranch land than ever before. However, a fully implemented farm bill can help all of us enjoy a cleaner environment, while stemming the loss of farmland and locally grown food. Educate yourself on the farm, conservation, and food views of presidential hopefuls Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama through their Web sites, and call for the candidates to fulfill the farm bill’s promise!
ACRE: The Way It Was Meant to Be
A bipartisan group of farm-state Senators has joined American Farmland Trust and other major agriculture organizations in writing to the USDA with a strong admonition: “We are extremely concerned that the department seems intent on unilaterally making up a version of ACRE contradictory to what was clearly enacted in the farm bill’s statutory provisions.” AFT and the National Corn Growers Association worked to promote the Average Crop Revenue Program (ACRE), a new safety-net based on revenue (both price and yield) that will provide help to producers only when they are in need after suffering a loss beyond their control.
Working Together to Save the Bay
Maryland regulators recently announced more stringent controls on Eastern Shore poultry farmers to reduce nutrient runoff and pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Congress had environmental issues like this in mind when they passed the conservation title in the 2008 Farm Bill, not only expanding funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), but also adding programs like Cooperative Conservation into the mix. AFT recently received a Conservation Innovation Grant through EQIP that will support the expansion of our work to create markets so that farmers can trade their nutrient reduction credits. Reducing nutrients provides a way for farmers to do their part to clean up this prominent and valuable waterway.
Don’t Rob Peter to Pay Paul
It seemed like the ink was hardly dry on the 2008 Farm Bill when the President proposed cutting key conservation, farmland preservation and other programs through the FY 2009 appropriations process. AFT and other conservation groups are calling on Congress to stick with the funding that was agreed upon just three months ago. “It would a terrible mistake to rob conservation, specialty crop and rural development programs to pay for the President’s priorities,” says Dennis Nuxoll, AFT’s Senior Director of Government Affairs.
Time for Renewables?
Just before heading home for its electoral recess, the Senate passed the Baucus-Grassley Amendment to H.R. 6049 to extend the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credits (ITC). The PTC covers biofuels, wind and other renewable energy generation, while the ITC provides credits for many projects, including residential and commercial solar projects, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and energy-efficient homes and appliances.
A New York State Department of Environmental Protection official says developing the huge natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation that runs from New York through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and beyond could generate billions in economic development for citizens and communities, but must not be done at the expense of the environment. Farmland preservation organizations are gathering information on leasing and drilling contracts and the effects on preserved farmland.
Farm Press editor Ron Smith writes about energy conservation, independence and the development of alternative energy: “Somewhere in the country, in a deserted physics, chemistry or engineering laboratory…an overworked and underpaid grad student is right now working on a system, a formula or a device that will revolutionize energy production. I wish him Godspeed. Please hurry, my tank’s almost empty.”