Published October 1, 2021
Along with tackling redistricting, the Texas Legislature is using the current Special Session to decide how to spend money from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA).
FARFA is urging the Legislature to allocate $10 million to a grant program to help farmers and ranchers pay for the up-front costs of implementing healthy soils management: things such as cross fencing and water supplies for managed rotational grazing, cover crop seed, no-till equipment, etc.
This builds on our work in the Regular Session with SB 1118, creating an “on-the-ground conservation” program at the Texas State Soil & Water Conservation Board. The TSSWCB was tasked with conducting education, outreach, and grant support in multiple areas, including support for farmers and ranchers to implement “healthy soils” management techniques.
SB 1118 did not include state funding. The TSSWCB has identified multiple federal grants that it can apply for to provide funding for the new program. However, doing so will take time and there is no assurance as to how many grants will be obtained.
Funding a state grant program would enable TSSWCB to start helping farmers now, and kickstart the whole program. This helps not only the farmers who get the grants, but the entire community – improving our soils means reductions in flooding, improved aquifer recharge, more nutritious food, and more!
Call your Texas State Representative and Senator and urge them both to support using $10 million of the ARPA funds for a “healthy soils” grant program to be administered by the Soil & Water Conservation Board.
Use our Elected Officials Lookup to see who represents you and get their contact information.
When you call, ask to speak to the staffer who is handling appropriations. Introduce yourself, mention that you are a constituent, and briefly explain why healthy soils are important to you, your farm, and/or your community. Specifically ask that they allocate some of the ARPA funds to the Soil & Water Conservation Board for grants to help farmers.
Sample script for calls:
“Hi, my name is ____ and I live in _____ [town]. Can I talk with the staffer who handles appropriations?
[If that staffer is not available, go ahead and talk with whomever answered the phone.]
“I am calling to ask Representative _______ [or Senator _______] to allocate some of the ARPA funds to help farmers through a grant program at the State Soil & Water Conservation Board. Under SB 1118, which passed in the regular session with only one ‘no’ vote, the Board is supposed to help farmers implement healthy soils methods.
This benefits not only the farmers, but everyone around them. Healthy soils act as a sponge, capturing and holding water. This means less flooding, improved aquifer recharge, greater drought resilience, and more.
[Why does this matter to you? Are you a farmer who wants to do more to promote healthy soils, but can’t afford some of the expense? Are you a Texan who has suffered flood damage? Are you concerned about water usage and want to support agricultural methods that reduce water needs? Share why you care.]
Allocating $10 million in ARPA funds makes financial sense. Helping farmers cover the up-front costs of implementing these healthy soil measures could help hundreds of them improve their land and save the State and taxpayers many times that amount of money in flood reduction and other benefits.
Can I have your email address to send you some follow-up information?”
The staffer will most likely not give you a commitment one way or another about whether their boss would support this request. But sometimes they will give you a signal of which way they think their boss is likely to go. If they do, please email Judith@FarmAndRanchFreedom.org – it helps us refine our strategy.
You can download our fact sheet for more information. When you call your legislator’s office, ask the staffer for their email address and follow up with a short email attaching the fact sheet and thanking them for their time.