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eNotes: Weekly News Briefs from the National Association of Conservation Districts

December 7, 2010

NACD Urges Congress to Keep Farm Bill Energy Programs Intact

As Congress begins debate on Farm Bill program reauthorization, NACD urges Members to keep energy programs intact.

“As landowners and conservationists, we fully support the development and use of renewable fuels from agriculture and forestry products,” said NACD President Steve Robinson. “Not only do renewable fuels support the environment and our national security, they also promote job growth and economic development in our rural communities.”

NACD, along with other national agriculture and energy groups, recently signed a letter urging Senate appropriators “not to downsize our energy security and economic independence goals.”

“While there are many excellent programs under your consideration with laudable goals, support for renewable energy production from America’s farms, ranches and forestlands has never been more critical as our country seeks greater economic security and energy independence,” the letter states. “Shifting this funding now, just as advanced biofuels refineries and other clean energy development projects are taking root, would thwart our nation’s economic and environmental goals and hurt rural economies.”

Fate of Estate Tax Uncertain

On Monday night, President Obama announced a deal with Republicans to extend Bush-era tax cuts. Last weekend, the Senate failed to back a package extending the Bush tax cuts for couples earning under $250,000. A second proposal to increase income limits to $1 million also failed. Both proposals included estate tax relief. These votes paved the way for a deal that would extend all expiring tax cuts for two years.

The estate tax, which is fully repealed in 2010, is set to return in 2011 at a rate of 55 percent with an exemption level of $1 million. The deal would provide a lower rate of 35 percent and increase the exemption level to $5 million. NACD supports reducing the estate tax burden on farmers and ranchers.

The estate tax, as currently formulated, promotes the break-up, sale and development of family-owned farms, ranches, and green spaces. Without estate tax relief, many of these lands will be sold for development, leading to permanent declines in clean water, healthy soils, wildlife habitat and the other critical benefits they provide.

In other congressional news, the House is expected to take up a long-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at 2010 levels through the end of the current fiscal year. The current CR expires December 18, and it is expected Congress will adjourn at the end of next week.

Conservation Program Spending Year End Review

Last week, NRCS released a year-end activity report for fiscal year (FY) 2010 conservation easement programs. Below are figures highlighting specific programs:

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

  • Total EQIP contracts: 36,499
  • Total acres treated: 13 million
  • Total Financial Assistance Obligation: $839 million

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

  • Total CSP contracts: 20,500
  • Total acres treated: 25.2 million
  • Total Financial Assistance Obligation: $321 million

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

  • Total WRP Enrollments: 272,762 acres
  • Total Financial Assistance Obligation: $595,562,106
  • Total Technical Assistance Obligation: $28,910,632

Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)

  • Total GRP Enrollments: 95,904 acres
  • Total Financial Assistance Obligation: $84,839,005
  • Total Technical Assistance Obligation: $3,437,072

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)

  • Total FRPP Enrollments: 170,412 acres
  • Total Financial Assistance Obligation: $144,041,755
  • Total Technical Assistance Obligation: $4,425,878

Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)

  • Total HFRP Enrollments: 2,836 acres
  • Total Financial Assistance Obligation: $6,476,376
  • Total Technical Assistance Obligation: $1,451,754

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

  • Total WHIP contracts: 4,731
  • Total acres treated: 1.1 million
  • Total Financial Assistance Obligation: $63 million

For more information, contact Danielle Dills at Danielle-Dills@nacdnet.org or 202-547-6223.

NACD Chairs Chesapeake Bay Meeting

On Wednesday, December 1, NACD chaired a Chesapeake Bay meeting attended by representative from the six Bay State governments, U.S. Environmental Protection Association, NRCS, National Agriculture Statistical Service and the Farm Service Agency.

Northeast Region Representative Rich Duesterhaus, Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts Executive Director Lynne Hoot, and J.C. Berger of Virginia’s Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District represented NACD and their respective districts at the meeting.

The meeting served to further coordinate and facilitate development of a common protocol for unreported best management practices pursuant to NACD’s agreement with NRCS. The protocol will be used by states in downloading information to EPA and its model of the condition of the Bay.

NRCS Requests CIG Applications

Last week, NRCS announced a request for applications for the Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program. NRCS anticipates $25 million will be available for Fiscal ear 2011.

Pre-proposal applications must be submitted to NRCS by December 28, 2010. Selected applicants will be asked to submit a full application package. CIG provides up to a 50 percent match for the total cost of the project. All proposed CIG projects must involve producers who are eligible for the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

You can download the request for applications announcement here.

CIG funds projects that demonstrate innovative and on-the-ground conservation approaches and technologies. The program enables NRCS to accelerate technology transfer and the adoption of promising technologies and approaches to address critical natural resource concerns.

For more information, click here.

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In this Issue

NACD Urges Congress to Keep Farm Bill Energy Programs Intact (read more...)

Fate of Estate Tax Uncertain (read more...)

Conservation Program Spending Year End Review (read more...)

NACD Chairs Chesapeake Bay Meeting (read more...)

NRCS Requests CIG Applications (read more...)

Scroll down for additional
news briefs:

EPA Offers Free Webcast Thursday

Report Shows Value
of Urban Trees

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EPA Offers Free
Webcast Thursday

EPA will offer a free webcast, "Designing Low Impact Development to Work: Lessons Learned from North Carolina,” from 1:00-3:00pm (EST) on Thursday, December 9.

The event will feature discussion of barriers to LID implementation and the progress being made to address those issues. Register online here.

Report Shows Value
of Urban Trees

New research from the U.S. Forest Service indicates nationwide benefits from the estimated 3.8 billion urban trees.

These trees are estimated to have a structural value of over $2 trillion, and store carbon valued at over $14 billion.

For more information, visit the Urban Forest Data website.

NACD Events Calendar

For additional details regarding the meetings listed below, click here.

  • December 14–15, National Conservation Partnership Conference, Louisville, Kentucky
  • January 6–7, 2011, NACD North Central Region Board Meeting, Schiller Park, Illinois
  • January 30–February 2, 2011, NACD 2011 Annual Meeting, Nashville, Tennessee
  • July 16-17, 2011, NACD Summer Board Meeting, Washington, D.C.
  • July 17-19, 2011, NACD Summer Legislative Conference, Washington, D.C.

NACD | 509 Capitol Court, NE | Washington, D.C. 20002 | (202) 547-6223 | www.nacdnet.org

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