Press Room

Audubon Praises Commitment to Conservation in 2018 Senate Farm Bill

Bill moves to conference committee: Audubon urges robust conservation in final bill

WASHINGTON (June 28, 2018) – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which, once reconciled with the House Farm Bill passed last week, will impact conservation practices on the two thirds of U.S. land that is privately owned for the next five years. “The Senate Farm Bill provides important tools to collaborate with producers on working landscapes to address bird habitat, water, and soil health needs,” said David O’Neill, Chief Conservation Officer for National Audubon Society. “It includes critical economic opportunities for the farmers, ranchers and private foresters who manage the private lands that birds depend on.” The National Audubon Society partners with private land managers on bird-friendly conservation strategies as part of its Working Lands Program.

2018 Senate Farm Bill is Good for Birds:

  • Maintains and protects strong funding for conservation programs. Preventing budget cuts to the Conservation Title is a major win for birds that depend on working lands for habitat, feeding and breeding, such as the Greater Sage-Grouse.
  • 100% increase in dedicated Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) funding to promote locally led, innovative conservation practices that improve the health of working landscapes and rivers through partnership-driven regional projects. An example of how the RCPP helps address multiple natural resource concerns on a meaningful scale is Audubon California’s successful Tricolored Blackbird protection project.
  • Doubles mandatory spending for wildlife habitat projects in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), from 5% to 10%. This critical and popular program is one source of support for the National Audubon Society’s Conservation Ranching program, which is helping protect the Henslow's Sparrow and other grassland birds.

Improves the implementation effectiveness of many Farm Bill projects and programs so that they can have a greater impact for birds, such as:

  • Watershed Act – Allows the Secretary of Agriculture to waive watershed size limits to address regional drought concerns—particularly in the West.
     
  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program:  
    • Creates a renewal process to expand successful conservation projects, adds funding flexibility to launch larger scale projects, and adds a grant component that could provide more options for implementation of conservation projects.
    • Protects Critical Conservation Areas (CCAs) in order to safeguard current RCPP investments in priority areas.
    • ​The Watershed Act and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) have been expanded/added as options within RCPP.

“We congratulate Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Roberts and Ranking Member Senator Stabenow on passing a bi-partisan bill with strong conservation funding,” O’Neill added. “As the differences between the House and Senate bills are ironed out in a conference committee, we look forward to working with Congressional champions to ensure that strong funding and increased flexibility for conservation, and protections for other vital programs such as water quality and family nutrition, remain in the final Farm Bill.”

Contact: Anne Singer, asinger@audubon.org, 202-271-4679.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

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