Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Farm Bill Clears Congress

A 2018 Farm Bill that contains strong farm and ranch conservation provisions last week passed the US House and Senate with broad bipartisan support, and President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law soon. All three members of the Montana Congressional Delegation voted in favor of the bill, which nationwide contains significant increases in funding levels to $450 million per year for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and $300 million per year for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. In addition to funding levels, the Land Trust Alliance, the Partnership of Land Trusts and members of MALT had worked to establish clear Farm Bill funding and policy priorities and goals early in the process, including basic elimination of the ALE Plan requirement, improvements in minimum deed terms, modifications in ALE project cash match considerations, allowance for the buy-protect-sell conservation transaction model, clarification of mineral development requirements and more. MALT joined other land trusts on a Dec. 12 conference call in thanking and congratulating the Alliance and the Alliance’s Farm Bill coalition for their efforts that produced the positive funding and program policy accomplishments within the Farm Bill. Well over a year ago, when the Montana land trust community first began planning for the 2018 Farm Bill, predictions about funding levels and program flexibility were consistently pessimistic. But thanks to Alliance persistence, focus and collaboration, we’ve ended up with a Farm Bill that is abundantly committed to ag land conservation.