Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Farm Bill programs working for Pennsylvania forests

In 2008, Congress made important changes to USDA conservation programs—opening them up to family forest owners and improving the health of America’s woodlands. Forest Landowners and Tree Farmers now have the tools needed to do right by the land—whether it’s growing timber, managing for wildlife, improving stream crossings, or protecting against invasive plants and insects.

To learn how Farm Bill programs are working for families across the country view the American Forest Foundation’s report that was recently released entitled: Forests in the Farm Bill Progress Report: 2011 Updated Edition.

Congress just started rewriting the Farm Bill, which could change how the programs work and affect forest owners. Please share the report with your member of Congress and let know how important Farm Bill conservation programs are for the health of woodlands in Pennsylvania. Also share the report with your local forestry department staff and NRCS offices, your state forestry association and anyone else you think would be interested.

Nearly 40,000 families with woodlands participated in Farm Bill programs last year, including the Pionke’s who used the Conservation Stewardship Program to restore and diversify their Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania Tree Farm after a devastating gypsy moth infestation. Read their story and others in the report.

Despite the success of the programs, some members of Congress have proposed deep cuts to the programs, which would make it difficult for USDA to provide technical assistance and management tools to family forest owners for years to come. While we understand that cuts must be made, and conservation programs must be a part of any debt solution, the budget cannot and should not be balanced on the back of conservation.

If you have any questions about the Progress Report or Farm Bill programs, please contact the American Forest Foundation.

(Edited from Dan Conant's news release dated June 22, 2011.  Dan is a Public Affairs Manager for the American Forest Foundation.)

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