The Farm Bill has finally been passed, vetoed, and veto-overridden. It’s a law!…or at least all of it except for that little 30 page clerical error.
So what does it say about ecosystem service markets? Here’s the news from USDA:
The farm bill governs federal farm, food, and conservation policy and is renewed every five years. The last farm bill, the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, underwent a series of extensions while Congress debated a new bill. On May 22, 2008, Congress overrode the President’s veto on 2007 farm bill legislation, enacting the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (PDF, 1.4 MB) into law. The new farm bill was assembled to include fifteen titles: commodity programs, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture and organic agriculture, livestock, crop insurance and disaster assistance, commodity futures, and miscellaneous provisions, and trade and tax provisions. However, the trade title was omitted from the farm bill legislative package due to a clerical error – Congress will respond to this error over the coming weeks.
The new Farm Bill takes a first step towards facilitating landowner participation in emerging markets for ecosystem services. Section 2709 of the conservation title requires USDA, in consultation with other agencies and interests, to “establish technical guidelines that measure the environmental services benefits from conservation and land management activities.” These guidelines will be used in the development of measurement and reporting protocols and registries. Section 2709 also calls for a verification process and guidelines for reported conservation and land management activities.