The four leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees announced an agreement on the 2014 Farm Bill conference report. The final bill is set for a House vote as soon as Wednesday, Jan. 24.
The Agricultural Lands Easement program, which covers both rangelands and croplands, will provide more than $1 billion to save working farm and ranch lands over the next five years. The Land Trust Alliance has worked with Senate and House leaders to secure a waiver provision that allows the 25 percent cash-match requirement to be waived by the Secretary of Agriculture.
The cash-match waiver will allow strategically important projects to proceed, even if they are in places where state and local governments do not have dedicated farmland conservation funds.
“This bill will keep working farms and ranches in family hands and allow communities to keep farms and local food in their future,” said Russ Shay, director of policy for the Land Trust Alliance.
The Land Trust Alliance has led a coordinated effort by land trusts across the country to persuade lawmakers that funding the purchase of conservation easements on working farms and ranches will be a wise investment. It has been a top priority for the Land Trust Alliance, which worked closely with both the House and Senate agriculture committees on the design and funding of the Agricultural Lands Easement program.
The Agricultural Lands Easement program consolidates the former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) and Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) into a single program.