The Senate today passed the Farm Bill (Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012) by a vote of 64-35, a huge step toward providing critical funding for conservation. The Nature Conservancy praises Sen. Bill Nelson for voting in support of the bill and urges Florida’s representatives to support similar legislation in the House so a new Farm Bill can be enacted this year.
The Nature Conservancy considers the Farm Bill, which covers a wide range of agricultural issues including conservation, as the most important legislation for conserving private lands in America. The conservation programs in the bill were funded at more than $57 billion over 10 years, a decrease of $6 billion from the 2008 Farm Bill.
“We care about the Farm Bill because we care about Florida’s natural resources,” said Shelly Lakly, Nature Conservancy executive director. “This bill provides incentives to farmers, ranchers and other private landowners that result in cleaner water, improved soil conservation, enhanced wildlife habitat, more outdoor recreation opportunities, increased flood control and economic benefits for local communities and rural economies.
“And perhaps most importantly,” Lakly said, “these programs help Florida’s farmers, ranchers, and private forest land owners to stay on the land as stewards of America’s natural resources.”
Farm Bill conservation programs account for just 7 percent of Farm Bill funding and yet the bill passed today 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. In Florida, the Wetlands Reserve Program has been critical the last two years in protecting the Northern Everglades for people and wildlife. 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 Farm Bill’s Conservation Title programs are both popular and highly effective,” Lakly said. “They recognize that the health of America’s soil, water, wildlife, and other natural resources is essential to the long-term productivity and economic viability of agriculture and forestry, that protecting and managing our natural resources is critical to the future of American communities, and that most of our nation’s opportunities for hunting, fishing, and observing nature depend upon privately owned habitat on working farms, ranches and forest land.”
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.