May 19, 2011
Joint Finance Committee Votes on PACE
The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted 16-0 on Wednesday to retain the statutory authority for the statewide Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) Program and to fund the first round of 16 PACE projects. The Joint Finance Committee also directed the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to re-evaluate the PACE Program, including how the program is administered, potential sources of future funding, state participation and local match requirements.
The actual language of the motion that was voted on can be found here.
While it is very significant that PACE will remain on the books and that the first round of PACE projects will move ahead, our hope is that the PACE Program will have its own designated source of funding in the future. For the first round of PACE projects, the Joint Finance Committee voted to redirect a one-time appropriation of $5.2 million from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Our position is that both programs should have independent and stable sources of funding.
We also want to mention that the successful effort to keep PACE on the books and to fund the first round of projects would not have been possible without a broad coalition of individuals and organizations advocating on behalf of the program. The American Farmland Trust played an integral role in this effort, as did many in the land trust community. Thanks to all for the hard work.