AFT's Working Lands Conservation policies
Over half the land in America is working agricultural land.
The use of this land to produce food, fiber and energy has an enormous impact on our natural and human environment.
Current conservation funding levels are not sufficient to address the needs of producers or the landscape. Currently two out of three farmers who apply for conservation funding are turned away. Additionally, farmers and ranchers cannot effectively use the “alphabet soup” of federal programs due to the complexity of multiple sign-ups, applications, eligibility requirements and various program rules.
Working Lands Conservation Policy Recommendations:
- Double funding to help farmers and ranchers care for our nation's resources
- Simplify the conservation application process to make it easier for farmers and ranchers to participate in current programs
- Create a revolving conservation loan program to allow more farmers to participate in federal programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), the Conservation Security Program (CSP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)
» AFT's Recommendations for EQIP
» AFT's Recommended Conservation Loan Guarantee Program
» AFT's Recommendations for the Conservation Reserve Program
Cooperative Conservation Program
U.S. farm policy can revolutionize the conservation efforts through cooperative conservation by allowing producer groups and organizations to compete for funding. Because many natural resource concerns traverse the borders of individual farms and ranches, cooperative conservation encourages collective action among producers and allows farmers and ranchers to work together.
Cooperative Conservation Policy Recommendations:
- Create cooperative conservation program to better address the nation's natural resource concerns
- Redistribute 20 percent of conservation funding from farm bill programs through a new, more effective vehicle
- Allow flexibility, as the entity that submits a proposal can choose the best means of delivering technical assistance
» AFT's Recommended Cooperative Conservation Program
Farmers should be compensated for the many environmental "products"—improved air and water quality, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat—that they generate, which are farm products just like corn, cattle, lettuce and milk.
Green Payments Policy Recommendations:
Create a broad-based green payments program available to all agricultural producers
- Base payments on sound performance-based measures, rather than on specific practices
- Complement working lands conservation programs like EQIP and CSP to help producers achieve higher levels of stewardship
With green payments, farmers throughout the country would be free to choose the most effective methods for producing environmental benefits. Green payments could help farmers increase soil quality by switching to conservation tillage systems; improve water quality by installing grass and tree buffer strips along streams; and reduce chemical use with integrated pest management.
» AFT's recommended green payments program
Protect the Agricultural Land Base
A strategic base of our best agricultural land is essential to our long-term ability to produce food, fiber and energy. Federal farm policy must adequately address the threat to our strategic agricultural land resources from non-farm development and fragmentation.
Policy Recommendations to Protect Agricultural Land:
- Double funding for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) while enhancing its effectiveness to permanently protect more farm and ranch land
- Create a federal matching grants program that helps state or local governments identify and implement strategies for land protection and farm transition
- Strengthen the Farmland Protection Policy Act so the federal government stops being a catalyst for farmland conversion and instead becomes an active player in protecting land for future agricultural needs
» AFT's Recommendations for Protecting the Agricultural Land Base
» AFT's Recommended FRPP Improvements
» AFT signs letter to permanently extend tax
incentives for donation of conservation easements