May 09, 2011
Wisconsin Farmland Protection ALERT: PACE and the State Budget
People from across Wisconsin are voicing opposition to state budget proposal to eliminate the state's program to permanently protect farmland. We need your help to reach out to lawmakers and the governor with a simple message: Don't wreck Wisconsin's farmland protection program.
The state budget udget proposes to zero out funding for the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement program and wipe the program off the books. The American Farmland Trust and Gathering Waters Conservancy are helping to organize grass-roots supporters of farmland protection. We need your help.
Please contact your state representative and senator and urge them to reject elimination of the PACE program and to work for secure funding sources. Even if funding is temporarily limited, it makes no sense to eliminate the program! It was supported by a broad, bipartisan coalition of farmers, local officials, citizens and land trusts when it was created in 2009. Wisconsin does not want to lose this excellent opportunity for farmers and their families to protect farmland and pass their farms on to the next generation.
Initially funded with $12 million in bonding authority over two years, PACE has exceeded expectations in popularity with farmers eager to protect their valuable farmland for future generations. Seventy-six applications covering more than 18,600 acres of some of Wisconsin's best agricultural land were received during the program's first two application rounds - much more than could be protected with the initial funding for the program!
In addition to the governor's budget, bills have been introduced in the Senate and Assembly to eliminate PACE and its funding sources. Your legislators need to hear from you, and now.
A few facts that show the importance of this program:
Wisconsin was 9th in the nation in the amount of agricultural land developed from 2002-2007 and 4th in the nation in the amount of prime farmland - the very best farmland - developed during that same period. While pressure to convert farmland may have slowed in the last two years, history shows that when the economy recovers the loss of farmland will return. The Wisconsin PACE program is a vital hedge against the incessant push of growth and development over rural communities and farmlands.
Local groups across the state are organizing efforts to reach out to lawmakers, contact media and take other steps to save Wisconsin's farmland preservation program. We need you to join the rising crescendo.