On February 7, President Obama signed into law the Agricultural Act of 2014, better known as the 2014 Farm Bill. This five-year legislation allows USDA to carry out its vital mission of serving rural America, creating jobs, and providing a safety net for Americans in need. The Farm Bill is important legislation that provides authorization for services and programs that impact every American as well as millions of people around the world. The new Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer.
The 2014 Farm Bill includes 12 Titles: Commodities; Conservation; Trade; Nutrition; Credit; Rural Development; Research, Extension, and Related Matters; Forestry; Energy; Horticulture; Crop Insurance; and Miscellaneous. Throughout various titles of the Farm Bill, particularly the Forestry Title, there are many authorities and provisions that will highly assist the Forest Service in accomplishing the agency mission, particularly in the areas where we have focused our highest priority work: ecological restoration, support to communities, and reducing the risk of wildfires.
Insect and Disease Designations
Among the provisions that pertain to the Forest Service, Section 8204 of the Farm Bill includes an important provision for addressing insect and disease threats on National Forest System lands. The Forest Service has designated approximately 46.7 million acres of National Forest System lands to address insect and disease threats that weaken forests and increase the risk of forest fire.
Good Neighbor Authority
The Farm Bill also permanently authorized the Good Neighbor Authority for the Forest Service extending it to all 50 States and Puerto Rico. The Good Neighbor Authority allows the Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements or contracts with States and Puerto Rico to allow the States to perform watershed restoration and forest management services on National Forest System lands.
Agricultural Conservation Experienced Services Program
Authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, the ACES authority provides unique opportunities to quickly acquire experienced workers, age 55 and over, to assist the Forest Service as non-federal experienced workers under temporary technical assignments carrying out conservation-related programs. This is made possible through partnership agreements with nonprofit organizations that will be responsible for identifying appropriate resources for the Agency's needs and directly administering those resources to provide ACES “Enrollees” on a temporary basis.