FARM BILL CONSERVATION & OTHER FARM RESOURCE RELATED LEGISLATION

Welcome to Federal Policy Week, a blog that covers federal policy developments in conservation, natural resources, wildlife, and animal welfare. 

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With the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, only a few agriculture conservation related bills have been introduced, so this edition of Federal Policy Week provides information on websites for Farm Bill information. It also includes information on conservation program and environmental related legislation that is still pending in Congress. I will provide updates on legislation introduced during the remainder of the 113th Congress and in the 114th Congress.

2014 Farm Bill:

farm bill image

For more information on agriculture conservation programs included in the 2014 Farm Bill, see

  1. NRCS Programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/
  2. FSA Programs, including Conservation Reserve Program (CRP): http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=copr&topic=landing
  3. Forest Service: http://www.fs.fed.us/farmbill/ (This is not a detailed site). The State Foresters website has a summary of all programs, including forestry programs.

The Senate Agriculture Committee website provides all Farm Bill documents, including bill text and a section-by-section summary, as does the House Committee’s website.

For general information on agriculture conservation programs, check out these websites:

  1. National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: Conservation work.
  2. National Association of Conservation Districts: Farm Bill
  3. National Wildlife Federation. Farm Bill Analysis.

Pending Agricultural Conservation & Farm Related Bills – 113th Congress (only bills introduced after passage of the Farm Bill).

  1. Agriculture Conservation Flexibility Act of 2014 (H.R.5071). Introduced by Ribble (R-WI). House Transportation Committee. The Bill has 68 cosponsors.

Information: This goal of this bill is to undermine Clean Water Act proposed regulations by EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers designed to protect waterways from pollutants. A related bill H.R.5078 passed the House. A similar bill S. 2496, was introduced in the Senate. Agriculture groups are generally supportive of these bills.   The comment period on the proposed rules just closed.

Members of Congress against runoff regulations.

Some Members of Congress oppose runoff regulations.

2.            A concurrent resolution expressing the sense of Congress regarding support for voluntary, incentive-based, private land conservation implemented through cooperation with local soil and water conservation districts. (S.Con.Res.39) Introduced by Sen. Pryor (D-AR). Senate Agriculture Committee. The Resolution has four cosponsors.

Summary: Expresses support for the conservation of the nation’s natural resources and working lands. (Read more).

Livestock are a major source of methane gas emissions.

Livestock are a major source of methane gas emissions.

3.            To prohibit any Federal agency or official, in carrying out any Act or  program to reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change, from imposing a fee or tax on gaseous emissions emitted  directly by livestock. (H.R.4393). Introduced by Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE).

Summary: Prohibits any federal agency or official from imposing a fee or tax on gaseous emissions emitted directly by livestock in carrying out any Act or program to reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. (Read more).

4.         Impaired Waters Improvement Act (H.R.4739). Introduced by Rep Reed (R-NY). Committee on Transportation. The Bill has four cosponsors.

Summary: Authorizes the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make grants to reduce the discharges of nitrogen, phosphorus, or sediment (pollutants) in an area that is subject to a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for those pollutants under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act). Makes eligible for grants the owners and operators of: (1) publicly owned treatment works or storm water management practices serving areas subject to the TMDLs, or (2) privately owned farms implementing methods to reduce discharges of those pollutants in those areas. (Read more).

5.          New Mexico Drought Relief Act of 2014. S.2470. The Bill was introduced by Sen. Udall (D-NM) and has one cosponsor.

Summary: (the relevant parts): Authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) to allocate certain financial assistance made available under the Food Security Act of 1985 (FSA) to establish special conservation initiatives to assist producers in implementing eligible activities on agricultural land in the western states for: (1) mitigating the effects of drought; (2) improving water quality and quantity; (3) restoring, enhancing, and preserving fish and wildlife habitat; and (4) promoting innovative and collaborative conservation tools and approaches. Amends the FSA to provide that areas eligible for designation as conservation priority areas shall include areas with actual and significant water quantity impacts related to agricultural production activities. (Read more).

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