Washington, D.C., June 6, 2012 —American Farmland Trust (AFT) commends Senate Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada for bringing the 2012 farm bill before the full Senate. “We look forward to working with Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell to move this farm bill forward. We hope the leadership’s engagement will build on the strong bipartisan effort begun by Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts, who have worked tirelessly to bring this bill to the floor,” said Scholl. AFT has frequently urged Congress to address crucial conservation and farm production issues this year rather than delay the legislation any further.
“Consideration of the farm bill is a crucial step toward moving this important legislation forward,” noted Scholl. He continued, “American farmers and ranchers are under continued pressure from growing global demand to produce food, fiber and fuel while also maintaining healthy soils, protecting water quality, improving water conservation and providing wildlife habitat. Renewing the farm bill this year is fundamental to meeting that challenge. We congratulate the Senate for moving forward to floor consideration and urge the House to follow suit when the House Agriculture Committee has produced a bill.”
Scholl reiterated AFT’s praise of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s efforts to streamline and consolidate certain conservation programs, in an effort to make them not only more cost effective, but simpler, more efficient, and easier for farmers to use. Examples cited by Scholl include:
- The new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) which will give producers and conservationists a tool to come together to address natural resource concerns in local areas, especially acute water quality and quantity concerns; AFT has worked with the Committee to strengthen this local partnership-based approach to conservation.
- The Committee’s plan to merge the functions of the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) with the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP); this new, joint function will be served by the Agricultural Lands Easement component of the new Easement Program. It will operate through state and local partners to provide permanent protection to working agricultural lands.
Scholl said, “The partnership approach used in the Regional Conservation Partnership Program represents a huge leap forward in how conservation is delivered.” He further noted that the Agricultural Land Easement tool included in the Senate bill reflects the core principles that American Farmland Trust advocates.
Finally, AFT commends the Senate Agriculture Committee for including a sodsaver provision that will reduce taxpayer support for farmers who convert native sod for agricultural production. AFT also supports the Committee’s decision to attach conservation compliance provisions to the Agriculture Risk Coverage program. However, AFT also notes that the Agriculture Committee’s draft does not reattach the conservation compliance provision to the crop insurance premium subsidy as it has been in the past. Scholl says, “We remain committed to the belief that conservation compliance should attach to all safety net programs.”
American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.
AFT's national office is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.