Congress responded to the enormous need for more conservation funding, better efficiencies in current working lands programs and several new options including:
- Increased funding and policy improvements for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to improve our environment;
- Increased funding and policy improvements for the Conservation Stewardship Program to reward farmers for stewardship;
- Funding for Wetland Reserve and Grassland Reserve Programs to protect our water and expand wildlife habitat;
- A new conservation loan program to leverage additional funding for agriculture conservation;
- A new cooperative conservation program to more effectively address the nation’s natural resource concerns;
- Extension of the tax credit for donated easements resulting in more land being protected for the future.
The bill also includes significant advances in supporting and expanding access to healthy and local foods, which will help address growing diet-related health concerns, food security and infrastructure needs. This bill expands the commitment to important farmers’ market programs, Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable (SNACK) program, and the Community Food Security Program. Just as important, it allows schools flexibility to give preference to local farmers in supplying food for the school food programs. This should help support urban-edge farmers and ranchers across the nation.
from the American Farmland Trust