2014 Farm Bill
President Obama signed the Farm Bill into law last week and, for the first time in history, it included $1.3 Billion to help land trusts purchase conservation easements on farms and ranches. This legislation creates the largest single government funding source for land conservation and will be most helpful in ensuring access to fresh, local food across America.
Environmental Protection Fund (EPF)
Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal increases the EPF appropriation by a modest $4 Million, from $153 Million to $157 Million. New York’s environmental community urges that it be increased to $200 Million to address critical needs that exist for programs that benefit clean air and water, healthy communities, job creation and municipal services. During the recent recession, the annual EPF appropriation was drastically reduced from $255 million to $134 million. This reduction negatively impacted programs that conserve our precious clean water; support our community parks and farm, forestry, recycling and tourism sectors; and empower our municipalities to become more resilient to storm impacts.
After many years of recession, state budget deficits and environmental funding cuts, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state leaders are projecting a $500-million budget surplus. We congratulate them for turning around the state’s budget. However, the state should now be investing more in clean water, land protection, invasive species controls, stewardship of state lands, and planning for vibrant hamlets.
A 2012 study by the Trust for Public Land showed that for every $1 invested in land and water conservation through the EPF, the state received $7 in economic return. The EPF supports thousands of jobs in our state through its various programs across a broad spectrum of industries, from outdoor tourism and agriculture to drinking water protection for millions of New Yorkers. EPF supported industries generate approximately $40 billion in revenue every year. With a 7 to 1 payoff for every dollar!