Coalition Letter: Lucas/Peterson - New Agriculture Committee Leadership (Feb.22, 2011)
Dear Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson:
The undersigned organizations, representing millions of conservation, forest industry, landowner, and community leaders from across the country, write to congratulate you on your new Agriculture Committee leadership roles and highlight areas in which we'd like to work with you in preparation for the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization.
In addition to focusing on the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization, we also look forward to working with you, in the short‐term, to maintain funding for conservation programs at the levels set in the 2008 Farm Bill as the fiscal year 2012 appropriations process unfolds. While we recognize the need to reduce federal deficits, doing so at the expense of farm and forest conservation will undermine efforts to ensure clean air and water, habitat for wildlife, forest products manufacturing, rural jobs, and healthy communities in the future. The proactive conservation activities supported by Farm Bill programs, over the long‐run, save money by avoiding the need for expenses like water treatment facilities.
Our coalition of organizations, known as the Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition, which originally came together prior to the 2008 Farm bill reauthorization, once again is working to develop consensus‐based policy recommendations for the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization. While we have a diversity of views on a number of issues, we are united in our support for policies in the 2012 Farm bill that promote the healthy management and conservation of America's private and family‐owned forests so that these forests can continue to provide the multitude of public benefits on which every American relies - from water and wildlife habitat to forest products, renewable energy, recreation and rural jobs.
With this broad goal in mind, we believe Congress should work through the 2012 Farm Bill and other vehicles to:
- Provide sufficient funding for USDA conservation and forestry (including agroforestry) programs to help satisfy the unmet need for more conservation practices.
- Streamline program requirements for forest landowners to improve delivery of conservation and forestry programs, maximizing resources available for more conservation practices.
- Boost capacity to provide technical assistance and outreach for family and other private forest owners, especially landowners who are currently not engaged in conservation or management of their lands. State forestry agencies, non‐governmental organizations and other private sector technical service providers should be utilized to reach landowners whose forests provide vital services and benefits to the American public.
- Focus conservation and forestry programs to accomplish landscape level conservation goals. Maximize ability of programs to address important forest issues and threats, especially those identified by the state forest resource assessments and strategies, and state wildlife action plans. This should include continued support for regular updates to these state level efforts.
- Promote policies for sustainably producing forest biomass for renewable energy and forest products from well‐managed forests.
- Encourage and facilitate the development of markets and incentives for ecosystem services from private forests, building on the 2008 Farm Bill's directive.
- Strengthen forest research, education, extension offices, and forest inventory capacity to address current and future forestry and conservation needs.
- Implement education strategies to ensure a future pool of forestry professionals.
We recognize that each of these recommendations could be accomplished through a number of policy changes in the 2012 Farm bill and through other vehicles. Our coalition is currently working to develop more detailed policy recommendations. We request the opportunity to discuss these goals and explore the appropriate policy changes with you.
We look forward to this opportunity and thank you again for your leadership and support for America's private and family‐owned forests.
American Bird Conservancy
American Forest & Paper Association
American Forest Foundation
American Forest Resource Council
American Loggers Council
Appalachian Mountain Club
Association of Consulting Foresters
Association for Temperate Agroforestry
Biomass Thermal Energy Council
Defenders of Wildlife
Forest Resources Association
National Alliance of Forest Owners
National Association of Forest Service Retirees
National Association of State Foresters
National Association of University Forest Resource Programs
National Network of Forest Practitioners
National Wildlife Federation
National Wild Turkey Federation
National Woodland Owners Association
Northern Forest Center
Pinchot Institute for Conservation
Ruffed Grouse Society
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Society of American Foresters
The Conservation Fund
The Nature Conservancy
The Pacific Forest Trust
Trust for Public Land
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