Last week the Senate passed the 2014 Farm Bill with overwhelming support. The Farm Bill is a major win for conservation as it maintains essential funding over the next ten years for the conservation of farm and ranch land. and hopefully for several Land Trust projects! The Bill helps protect farm and ranch land and ensures the conservation of valuable wildlife habitat.
Over the years, the Land Trust has used Farm Bill funding to protect working ranches like Rimrock Ranch and Coffer Ranch. We hope to use the programs from the new Bill to fund current projects on tributaries of the Crooked River.
Each year, an estimated two million acres of America's farms, ranches, forests, and wildlife habitat are broken into smaller parcels or lost to development. The Farm Bill is among the most important legislation for conserving working private lands, which make up more than 70% of the land in the lower 48 states and 50% of America's forests.
An estimated 430 million acres of cropland, rangeland, or pasture land in the United States is eligible for Farm Bill programs. These programs enhance landowners opportunities to be good stewards of the land. We can all enjoy the results of these conservation efforts, including cleaner water, improved soil quality, bolstered communities, and better access to affordable and local food.
The Land Trust is grateful to Representative Greg Walden, Senator Ron Wyden, and Senator Jeff Merkley for their leadership in passing this legislation, which boosts our efforts to conserve the best of Central Oregon.