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Senator Santorum and Secretary Johanns Highlight Farmland Conservation and Tour Central Pennsylvania Food Bank

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Location: Harrisburg, PA


Senator Santorum and Secretary Johanns Highlight Farmland Conservation and Tour Central Pennsylvania Food Bank

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Mike Johanns today were at Hershey Farms in Elizabethtown to applaud the Pennsylvania No-Till Partnership's efforts to conserve natural resources by increasing the use of no-till systems.

The Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance is focused on promoting soil health and environmental protection through water quality, as well as energy conservancy. The Partnership includes public entities, such as USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Penn State University, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the State Conservation Commission, as well as private partners, such as the Capital RC&D Area Council, Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, PennAg Industries Association Inc., the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts and no-till farmers.

"The Pennsylvania No-Till Partnership is a great example of a cooperative effort to bring farmland conservation to the agriculture community's social conscience. I am pleased to see my alma mater, Penn State, take such an active role in environmental protection and conservation," said Senator Santorum. "The No-Till Partnership and I seek similar goals - to grow, protect, and market Pennsylvania crops in a healthy and clean environment."

As the first Pennsylvania Senator in over a century to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Santorum is working to assure that states of the mid-Atlantic and northeast are well represented in the farm bill process this time. Senator Santorum's intention in establishing the framework of the 2007 Farm Bill is to foster and develop an agriculture policy for Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania's agricultural economy is based on a different crop/product mix than the majority of states that traditionally have influenced and written previous farm bills. The Senator's farm bill initiative is comprised of three components, to grow, to protect and to market:

To Grow -- component consisting of general commodity policy reform, forestry, energy, farm credit and dairy policy initiatives

To Protect -- component consisting of farmland protection, farm transitions, research, bio-security, conservation, and crop insurance policy initiatives

To Market -- component consisting of foreign and domestic market access initiatives and nutrition policy

"The 2007 Farm Bill must contain measures that allow producers to grow their agricultural business in Pennsylvania while continuing to be good stewards of our natural resources," said Senator Santorum.

"Pennsylvania's farmers serve as model conservationists and demonstrate the spirit of volunteerism," said Secretary Johanns. "I am proud to join Senator Santorum in this celebration today. He does a tremendous job for agriculture and our nation."

Earlier in the 109th Congress, Senator Santorum worked to incorporate a land conservation provision, Section 307, in the Tax Relief Act of 2005 (S.2020). Section 307 is a provision to provide additional incentives for charitable donations of real property made for qualified conservation purposes. Under this provision individuals may include the fair market value of any qualifies conservation contribution of capital gain property in determining the amount of the charitable contributions subject to the fifty percent contribution base limitation.

Section 307 encourages conservation of land, and ensures that land-rich, but cash-poor families receive an incentive to donate land for conservation purposes. In Pennsylvania the Brandywine Conservancy, Natural Lands Trust, Pennsylvania Land Trust Association and Western Pennsylvania Land Trust, all support the land conservation provision.

Following the conservation event, Senator Santorum and Secretary Johanns toured the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg. As a member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Social Security and Family Policy, Senator Santorum has been a leader in the Senate, working in a bipartisan fashion on legislation that would provide incentives for charitable giving so charities can better meet the numerous needs in our nation's communities.

In December of last year charitable giving provisions were included in the Tax Relief Act of 2005 (S. 2020); the charitable giving provisions included are part of Senator Santorum's CARE Act (S. 1780), and include incentives for an estimated $2 billion worth of food donations from farmers, restaurants, and corporations to help those in need. America's Second Harvest estimates that this is the equivalent of 878 million meals for hungry Americans over 10 years. This incentive is strongly supported by food banks, farm bureaus, and hunger advocacy groups around the country.

"The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is a great organization, providing meals to those in need and serving the community through the help of volunteers. It is important to continue federal support of programs like the Food Bank and also to encourage all Pennsylvanians to support charitable organizations that seek to help those in need," said Senator Santorum.

Concerns have been expressed over federal support for nutrition programs. Food Banks receive some funding through the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). The CSFP is a vital nutrition program for low-income seniors, mothers, and children; it is a complement to the Food Stamp Program and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Senator Santorum supports funding for the program and joined his colleagues in sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee to urge funding in Fiscal Year 2007. On March 16, Senator Santorum and several of his colleagues joined in a bipartisan letter to the USDA. The letter expressed concerns regarding the reductions of 48,000 cases from the CSFP and urged USDA to utilize past and current inventories to serve the full Fiscal Year 2006 caseload.

http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.View&ContentRecord_id=1759&Region_id=0&Issue_id=0

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