In case you haven't heard, the Senate is currently in negotiations over the Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240), also known as the Farm Bill. Among the Farm Bill amendments filed is Amendment 2292 from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would eliminate the Urban and Community Forestry Program.
Urban and Community Forestry is a cooperative program of the US Forest Service that focuses on the stewardship of urban natural resources. Urban forests include parks, street trees, landscaped boulevards, public gardens, river and coastal promenades, greenways, river corridors, wetlands, nature preserves, and natural areas. The Forest Service program provides technical, financial, research and educational services. It is delivered through state forestry agencies.
While there have been hundreds of amendments filed, only a few dozen are expected to receive a vote. Senate Republicans have identified 40 priority amendments. Among the list of 40 includes Amendment 2292 from Senator Coburn.
Please reach out to your Senators to let them know how important trees and forest help are to your community. Find their information here.
We've provided some talking points for your phone call or email below:
As the Senate considers the Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240), we ask your support for the Urban and Community Forest Program at the USDA Forest Service
- The program provides financial and technical assistance to cities and towns as they develop and advance urban forestry programs.
- Last year, the program provided assistance to over 7,100 communities and reaching a total of 194 million people (i.e. over 60% of the U.S. population).
- Where urban forests have been established, crime rates are often reduced, air pollutants are removed, heating and cooling costs are reduced and water quality is improved.
- A 2002 estimate suggest that the green industry was estimated at $147 billion in output and provides nearly 2 million jobs and $64 billion in labor income.
The key ask of your Senator? Oppose Senate Amendment 2292 (from Sen. Coburn) that would repeal the Urban and Community Forestry Program.
We expect the Senate could vote as early as today. Please reach out to your Senators as soon as possible.
On Thursday, June 21, the Senate voted 64-35 in favor of the Farm Bill, an action that puts the legislation in the House’s hands. The bill did not include an amendment to wipe out the USDA Forest Service’s Urban & Community Forestry program. The bill faces an uncertain future in the House. While the Senate version cut farm subsidies and land conservation spending by about $2 billion a year, conservatives in the House are likely to ask for deeper cuts, especially in the food stamp program.
Thank you to all who wrote or called your representatives. Your voice was heard. Urban Forestry is a minor line item in this massive bill, but an important one for research and practice of commercial arboriculture.