Today the United States Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (the Farm Bill) by a vote of 64-35. The conservation programs in the bill were funded at more than $57 billion dollars over ten years, a decrease of $6 billion from the 2008 Farm Bill.
The Nature Conservancy issued the following statement from Mark Tercek, the Conservancy’s president and CEO, reacting to the news:
“We care about the Farm Bill, and, particularly the Conservation and Forestry Titles of that bill, because we care about the future of this country’s natural resources. No other piece of legislation can match the Farm Bill’s contribution toward the conservation of private lands in America, so we are grateful that the Senate has approved it in a way that will allow continuation of effective partnerships with farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners to conserve our nation’s soil, water and wildlife.
“The Senate got the Conservation and Forestry titles in the Farm Bill right—and that is no small feat. Senate Agriculture Committee leaders were tasked with crafting a Farm Bill which helps sustain America’s important agriculture economy, saves billions of dollars from the federal budget and still adequately supports critical conservation programs that, among many other benefits, help America’s farmers, ranchers, and private forest land owners to stay on the land as stewards of America’s natural resources.
“Working in a bipartisan manner, the Senate met that challenge and demonstrated that it is possible to tackle the big issues our nation faces today. Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Roberts and the rest of the Senate Agriculture Committee particularly have our deepest gratitude. We appreciate the results they were able to accomplish and respect the thoughtful and bipartisan approach they took to make this achievement possible. While there are some changes that may be desirable as the bill moves through the House, overall excellent progress has been made in approval of the bill by the Senate.
“The House of Representatives should now hold the line on funding for the Conservation Title as it develops its own version of the Farm Bill. Any cuts to conservation funding below the Senate-approved amounts would jeopardize this country’s entire system of successful voluntary private lands conservation programs.
“It is time to stand up for conservation of America’s remarkable natural resources, time to move ahead with a Farm Bill and, particularly, Farm Bill conservation programs that serve not only this but future generations of Americans. Enacting a Farm Bill with sufficient conservation funding must be done this year, the Senate has shown it can be done, and now the House can make sure it will be done.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy