PROTECTION PROGRAM EMERGES FROM 2002 FARM BILL
AS DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
Protecting Farmland from Development Ranks Among the Nation's Top
American Farmland Trust
D.C., May 8, 2002-The 2002 Farm
Bill passed Congress today with nearly $1
billion in new funding for the federal Farmland Protection
Program, offering a glimmer of good policy in a bill that's
been highly criticized for its largess.
is a major breakthrough for the future of our nation's
farmland," said American Farmland Trust President Ralph
Grossi. "In committing $1 billion for farmland protection,
Congress responded to the needs and demands of farmers and
ranchers nationwide. Farmland protection now has a seat at the
roundtable of agricultural policy-it's a major program addressing
a significant national need."
new Farmland Protection Program (FPP) money will be spent over the
next 10 years to purchase development rights on farmland, ensuring
that the land remains permanently in agriculture. America
currently loses more than one million acres of farm and ranch land
each year to development.
$35 million 'starter kit' for farmland protection in the last farm
bill is now a $1 billion program, addressing one of the public's
top priorities," Grossi said. "Increased spending to
protect our working lands from development is a sign that the 2002
Farm Bill contains at least some improvements over previous
the FPP is a matching program, states and local governments will
have an incentive to
develop and expand conservation easement programs, leveraging
federal money to protect more farms and ranches.
now, FPP is the only conservation program that targets the needs
of urban-edge farmers-that's a major boost to states and their
communities," Grossi said. "But the funds are not enough
given the scope of the problem. I hope this infusion of funding
spurs state and local governments to expand their support for farm
and ranch land protection programs."
conservation funding in the 2002 Farm Bill totals $17.1 billion,
representing a 21 percent share of the $82.8 billion in new
spending authorized by the bill. In a poll released last summer,
however, AFT found that voters support a much higher level of
conservation spending: 75 percent of voters feel that income
support to the American farmer should come with
the stipulation that farmers are required to apply "one or
more conservation practices," such as protecting wetlands or
preventing water pollution.
conservation package in this farm bill represents a big step in
the right direction, as Congress has nearly doubled the amount of
money it commits to help farmers and ranchers improve the
environment, protect land and water quality, and promote
biodiversity," Grossi said. "But it is only the
first step in helping them meet the growing public demand for a
"The gut reaction among many
conservation groups has been to stop
farming," said Scherr. "Where that's
OK in surplus producing regions of the U.S., it's not OK in
the Third World."
Read more about "biodiversity" at "Agriculture
eats away at biodiversity" from Environmental News