The Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Foo and Jobs Act of 2012 (the Farm Bill) by a vote of 64-35 on June 21, 2012. This is great news for conservation in Kentucky!
The Farm Bill covers a wide range of agricultural issues, including conservation. In fact, The Nature Conservancy considers the Farm Bill the most important legislation for conserving private lands in America.
“We care about the Farm Bill because we care about the environment and Kentucky’s natural resources,” said Terry Cook, State Director for The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky. “This bill provides incentives to farmers, ranchers and other private landowners that result in cleaner water, improved soil conservation, enhanced wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities, increased flood control and economic benefits for local communities and rural economies. And, importantly, these programs help Kentucky’s farmers, ranchers, and private forest land owners to stay on the land as stewards of America’s natural resources.”
The bill passed includes support for conservation provisions in three key priority areas: successful and sought-after easement programs, effective working lands programs and partnership programs that leverage cooperative efforts to accomplish conservation in larger landscapes. Over 90 percent of Kentucky is privately owned and many of those acres are eligible for Farm Bill programs that are essential to the sustainability of U.S. agriculture and forestry and to meeting the growing demand for food and fiber at home and abroad.
“We are grateful for the Senate’s action. We encourage Kentucky’s Representatives to support similar legislation so a new Farm Bill can be enacted this year. The House of Representatives should hold the line on funding for the Conservation Title of the Farm Bill. Any cuts to conservation funding below the Senate-approved amounts would jeopardize this country’s entire system of successful agricultural and forestry conservation programs,” concluded Cook. “It is time to move ahead on a Farm Bill with conservation programs that serve not only this, but future generations of Americans.”