Rural Heritage Provisions Survive House Floor Debate on Farm Bill Reauthorization
Contributed By: The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Department of Public Policy
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This week the House considered H.R. 2419, the “Farm, Nutrition, and Bio- Energy Act of 2007,” which included three major rural heritage provisions advocated by the National Trust. HR 2419 faced challenges from conservative Republicans who were upset about the bill’s $7.5 billion offset provision, which was a tax increase on certain foreign companies doing business in the United States, and from liberal Democrats demanding further crop-subsidy reforms as part of the bill. However, the measure ultimately passed the House by a margin of 231-191. The Senate is expected to consider its version of the Farm Bill following the August recess.
The Trust is pleased the House bill maintained the historic preservation language included in the measure reported by the House Agriculture Committee, including:
- language in the Rural Development Title which included the “promoting, preserving and protecting rural heritage” in the Rural Strategic Investment Program (RSIP);
- the inclusion of historic and archaeological resources as eligible for protection in Farm Ranchland Protection Program (FRRP) as part of the Conservation Title in the bill; and
- reauthorization of the historic barn grant program under the Rural Development title.
Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) proposed an amendment to streamline and adopt one set of terms and conditions of easements for the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program, Farmland and Ranchland Protection Program, and the Healthy Forest Reserve Program. The National Trust joined a number of groups — including American Farmland Trust, the Society for American Archaeology and the Land Trust Alliance — in sending a letter to all House members encouraging them to oppose the Goodlatte amendment because: it would impose cost-share requirements on state and local FRPP partners; allow the Agriculture Department (USDA) to modify or terminate easements purchased with the use of FRPP funds, if the Secretary determines the modification or termination would achieve a goal that the Secretary deems appropriate; and, move funds away from permanent easements toward temporary 30-year easements. Fortunately, the amendment was withdrawn.
In addition, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) proposed an amendment to make conservation easements purchased through a transferable development rights program eligible for grants under the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. However, House Agriculture Committee chairman Tim Holden (D-PA) requested time to clarify the amendment’s language and expressed his willingness to work with Rep. Blumenauer on this issue before the bill reaches conference. The Blumenauer amendment was subsequently withdrawn.
Reprinted by permission of the Public Policy Department of the National Trust
Keywords: Farm, Nutrition, and Bio- Energy Act of 2007, preservation leglislation, rural heritage, National Trust for Historic Preservation, historic preservation, Farm Ranchland Protection Program
Posted: July 27, 2007
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