Senate Passes Farm Bill With Preservation Initiatives; Craig Amendment on Eminent Domain Defeated
Contributed By: The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Department of Public Policy
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After overcoming procedural obstacles, the Senate finally passed its version of the 2007 Farm Bill on Friday, December 14th by a vote of 79-14. The National Trust is pleased that the measure includes the following historic preservation language across several titles in the bill:
- In the Conservation Title, “historic and archaeological resources” are considered eligible lands in the Farmland Protection Program and Grassland Reserve Program. Extending eligibility language to the Grassland Reserve Program will provide an additional tool to protect historic farmland throughout the United States.
- The Rural Development Title includes Regional investment strategy grants as part of its Rural Collaborative Investment Program. These competitive grants to certified Regional Boards are designed to develop, implement and maintain Regional Investment Strategies, developed through a collaborative and inclusive public process. The Senate Agriculture Committee’s report states that “the type of things that will be included in a plan by a regional board to promote the economic growth…could include…promotion of an area’s rural heritage...”
- The Senate measure also reauthorizes the historic barn program with emphasis on funds for barn inventory surveys. Senator Tom Coburn (ROK) proposed an amendment to cut the program, however, it was withdrawn.
- In the Tax Title, the bill “permanently extends the special rule regarding contributions of capital gain real property for conservation purposes.”
During consideration of the Senate bill, Senator Larry Craig (D-ID) introduced an amendment to impose severe federal sanctions on any state or unit of local government that exercises its constitutional power of eminent domain for a number of things, including open and preservation, if lands are currently in agricultural use.
In response, the National Trust sent a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IL) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and the entire Senate urging them to reject the Craig amendment because, among other things, “in many cases state and local authorities use this power to protect rural lands from inappropriate development, not to stop traditional agricultural uses.” Thanks to the National Trust and its partners’ efforts against the measure, the amendment failed to garner the 60 votes needed for passage and was withdrawn.
In the near future, conferees from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are expected to negotiate the House and Senate farm bills and produce a final conference report. The National Trust and its partners will work closely with conference committee members and their staff to ensure the strongest preservation language from the House and Senate bills is included in the 2007 Farm Bill conference report.
Reprinted by permission of the Public Policy Department of the National Trust
Keywords: 2007 Farm Bill, National Trust for Historic Preservation, historic and archaeological resources, Farmland Protection Program and Grassland Reserve Program, historic barn program
Posted: December 17, 2007
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