National Land Protection Organizations Unite in Urging Congress to Protect IRA Conservation Funding
Today, American Farmland Trust, The Conservation Fund, Land Trust Alliance, and The Nature Conservancy sent a joint letter to House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership calling on Congress to protect the $20 billion in conservation funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as they consider the next Farm Bill. This includes $1.4 billion to support USDA’s oversubscribed Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which provides funding for the purchase of agricultural conservation easements to help willing landowners protect wetlands, grasslands, and cropland. Together, these organizations represent 950 land trusts, millions of supporters, and work closely with the majority of the public and private entities that partner with USDA on ACEP.
“The IRA conservation funding is critical to providing producers with the voluntary tools they need to protect their land and adopt practices to improve profitability, resilience, and environmental outcomes,” said Tim Fink, Policy Director for American Farmland Trust. “The ACEP funding in particular will help meet growing demand for a program that protects irreplaceable farmland and is fundamental to realizing the climate benefits of other IRA investments.”
“Farm Bill conservation programs help safeguard essential agricultural lands that secure America’s food and fiber, contribute to the economy, and are critical to tackling climate change and its impacts,” stated Lori Faeth, Senior Director of Government Relations for the Land Trust Alliance. “ACEP is an important investment in voluntary private land conservation and has helped protect millions of acres of irreplaceable working lands while keeping these lands in family hands. We urge Congress to safeguard this historic $20 billion investment in our nation’s working lands and all the benefits they provide.”
The letter specifically points to the numerous benefits of agricultural conservation easements, including ensuring food security, helping producers to reinvest in their operations, making agricultural land more affordable, preventing sprawl, and ensuring that land remains available for climate mitigation. Agricultural conservation easements also provide broad economic benefits to rural communities. A 2018 study done by Colorado State University found that for every dollar of federal conservation easement investment in Colorado, $2.19 of economic activity is generated due to direct, indirect, and induced spending in the state.
The IRA, passed and signed into law in August 2022, included an historic investment of nearly $20 billion dollars for Farm Bill conservation programs, technical assistance, and quantification efforts.
About American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.
About the Land Trust Alliance
Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents more than 950-member land trusts and their 6.4 million supporters nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices.