First up is the upcoming Farm Bill. Due to be reauthorized in September, this legislation will provide $20 billion in conservation funding . . . These dollars can be used through various programs, including Wetlands Restoration Programs, Regional Conservation Partnership Programs, Grasslands, Conservation Reserve Program, Forestry, and more.
In addition to the alphabet soup of programs Florida’s agricultural community is already able to engage with (NRCS, EQIP, RCCP), we’re hoping to help our state utilize the VPA-HIP program for the first time ever!
Voluntary Public Access – Habitat Improvement Program (VPA-HIP) is due to be tripled in funding this iteration of the Farm Bill, meaning $150 million may be available nationally for private landowners to create programs allowing some level of public access to their properties, be it for consumptive use (hunting, fishing) or even agri-tourism!
Florida has never been able to create a successful program around these funds, but our hope is to help shape this into another revenue stream for ag producers, while also allowing more people the ability to touch wild Florida!