With a bipartisan vote of 68-32, the Senate today passed the Agricultural Act of 2014. The House of Representatives passed the bill on January 29, and it now goes on to the President for signature.
In what is a major win for conservation, the 2014 Farm Bill includes key provisions to protect wetlands and native grasslands, and continues effective, voluntary conservation programs.
“The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is very pleased that this bill meets our top priorities. It protects fragile soils and wetlands by linking conservation compliance to crop insurance and also conserves grasslands in six prairie states through a regional Sodsaver policy,” said Dan Forster, President of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and Director of Georgia Wildlife Resources Division. “We sincerely thank Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran for their dedication and leadership, which made this strong conservation bill possible.”
The farm bill conservation title is the single, largest federal investment for natural resources conservation - including fish and wildlife conservation - on private lands in the nation. The Agricultural Act of 2014 continues funding and enhances policies for voluntary, private lands conservation, including conservation easements and the Conservation Reserve Program.
Farm bill conservation programs are critical to state fish and wildlife agencies for conserving and improving millions of acres of habitat and for providing opportunities for hunting and angling. This investment, in turn, helps sustain rural economies; improve the quality of life through cleaner water, fresher air and healthier places to live; and provide affordable food and fiber in environmentally sustainable ways.
“We urge the President to sign The Agricultural Act of 2014 into law so that critical conservation efforts can soon resume and so that America’s farmers and ranchers can have the certainty they need to produce abundant food and fiber,” said Forster.