Congress Reauthorizes the Farm Bill
After letting its authorization slip earlier this year, Congress has approved legislation to reauthorize the Farm Bill for another five years. The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 87-13 and by a vote of 369-47 in the House of Representatives. Such overwhelming margins may hide the difficulty Congress experienced in getting to the final passage but this also indicates the broad support in both political parties for the overall goals of the legislation. Read the Farm Bill letter here.
Conservation programs benefitted from the bi-partisan support. The updated Farm Bill included:
- Strong funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
- Reauthorized funding for the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP).
- Maintaining the Conservation Reserve Program through 2023.
- Support for wood markets and innovative wood products through the reauthorization and expansion of the Community Wood Energy Program (CWEP) and passing the Timber Innovation Act (TIA).
- Codifying the U.S. Forest Service Landscape Scale Restoration program and provides $20M in funding.
- Increasing funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to $450 million each year.
The Farm Bill is the single largest source of federal funding for conservation. Therefore, the Forest Society worked with other organizations from around the country on ensuring its reauthorization occurred this year. In August, we signed onto a letter addressed to Congressional leaders in support of the bill and the important elements we believed should be part of a final bill.