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Federal Updates
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The federal policy process is often complex and fast-moving. Here you will find the most recent updates on the various issues we work on. For past updates, please visit the Archive.

AFT Farm Policy Activity
The 2007 Farm Bill is being constructed. Hearings, debates and marker bills are just a few of the many efforts underway. more
federal tax policy
August 17, 2006
Expanded Tax Incentives for Donated Conservation Easements Signed into Law
The President signed the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which includes new land conservation tax benefits for family farmers and ranchers, into law. The new law enables landowners who donate a conservation easement to deduct the value of their easement, up to 50 percent of their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) in any given year, and spread deductions over a 16-year period instead of six years. In addition, qualified farmers and ranchers (taxpayers whose gross income from the trade or business of farming is greater than 50 percent of their gross income for the taxable year) can deduct the value of their easement, up to 100 percent of their AGI in any given year. The provisions only apply to easements donated in 2006 or 2007. This is a great victory for conservation and AFT thanks all who contacted the President and urged him to take action.
Farm policy-programs
October, 2006
AFT Submits Comments to NRCS on FRPP Interim Final Rule

American Farmland Trust recently submitted comments on the Interim Final Rule for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP). The comments encouraged the Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop a certification process that would waive certain program requirements for established state and local programs with a demonstrated track record in farm and ranch land protection. AFT questioned the agency’s attempt to re-characterize its interest in FRPP easements and urged it to implement a program that reduces the regulatory burden placed on cooperating entities.

August, 2006
Changes to the Federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program

One of the most closely watched farmland preservation programs this summer has been the Federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has released an interim final rule for the program and new FRPP legislation was introduced in both the House in Senate. While the timing of these three events was purely coincidental, they were by no means unrelated. More

July 27, 2006
Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program Interim Rule
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) published an interim final rule for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program in the July 27, 2006 edition of the Federal Register. The rule seeks to clarify a number of program requirements such as title standards, appraisals and impervious surfaces that have impacted the ability of cooperating entities to access FRPP funds. The official comment period runs through September 25, 2006. Interim rule [PDF]
June, 2006

Northeast Departments of Agriculture Weigh In on FRPP

Reacting to changes proposed earlier this year by USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), state Secretaries and Commissioners of Agriculture from New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia recently urged the NRCS to consider certifying existing state farmland protection programs. A certification, they suggest, could recognize state programs that meet a requisite standard of farmland protection experience and then defer to those certified states' expertise regarding appropriate rules and requirements for FRPP administration. Signed Letter to NRCS [PDF]
Budget and Appropriations-conservation
July 5, 2006

Appropriations Bills Move Forward; Senate Adds FRPP Funding and Language

The House and Senate each are moving forward with their respective versions of the FY 07 agricultural spending bill. Unfortunately, both bills propose further reductions in funding for mandatory conservation programs, at a time when conservation programs are facing extensive backlogs. However, the Senate version of the bill increases funding for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) over the amount allocated in the House bill. The Senate version also includes language intended to prevent NRCS from instituting several proposed changes to the program. more

April 6, 2006
AFT Urges More Funding for Farmers’ Market Programs

Consumer demand for fresh, locally grown products has sparked a renewed interest in direct markets among producers. More farmers and ranchers are selling directly to consumers and businesses, and sales figures at many of the nation’s 3,900 farmers’ markets continue to rise. The USDA recently announced $1 million in competitive grants under the Farmers Markets Promotion Program (FMPP) to help promote direct markets. American Farmland Trust has long supported our nation’s farmers’ markets and joined forces with 33 other groups to send a letter to House Appropriators urging them to fund the FMPP at $5 million in FY 07. more

February 24, 2006
Budget Proposal Confirms Changes to Farm Policy Are Inevitable
The administration recently released a $125.6 billion budget proposal for the USDA during FY 07, a $7.3 billion decrease from FY 06 levels. The proposal contains a number of policy changes to commodity programs and reduces funding for a number of critical conservation programs. In a statement released by AFT, President Ralph Grossi noted that the president’s budget confirms what farmers, ranchers and observers have long known: “significant changes to American farm policy are inevitable.” However, Grossi emphasized that changes to commodity programs should be part of a larger farm policy discussion and not simply be budget cutting measures. more
Budget and Appropriations-General
March 2, 2006
Budget Receives Mixed Reviews While Congress Talks of Extending 2002 Farm Bill

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns recently testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture to make the case for the president’s FY 07 budget, which has received mixed reviews from members of Congress and the agricultural community. In response to the proposal, members of the House Committee on Agriculture sent a letter to their colleagues on the House Committee on Budget urging them to refrain from making additional changes to agricultural programs that are set to expire in 2007. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, many members of Congress are beginning to discuss the possibility of extending the 2002 Farm Bill for one or two years. They believe that U.S. farm policy should not be revised until the current round of WTO negotiations is complete, but the leadership still appears committed to having a 2007 Farm Bill. more

Find more updates on Budget and Appropriations - General in the Archive.

AFT In Your State
Issue Updates

AFT's Farm Policy Campaign

AFT is pursuing a new farm policy in 2007 to benefit all of America's farmers and ranchers.

Farm Policy Disucssions

The Existing Farm Safety Net Doesn't Work; Here's an Idea That Does

Calling on Congress to Fund Conservation

The Farm Bill Shapes the Food System

American Farmland Trust