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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Preserving Wildlife, Climate Critical Topics for 2023 Farm Bill

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Thursday, March 2, 2023   

As hearings on the 2023 Farm Bill begin, a push is on to ensure biodiversity is part of the conversation. A Senate hearing on the bill's conservation and forestry programs was held on Wednesday.

According to Defenders of Wildlife, more than 70% of species listed under the Endangered Species Act rely on private lands, and more than 40 % of private land in the lower 48 states is managed for agriculture.

Mary Pfaffko, senior private lands policy analyst, Defenders of Wildlife, said the bill is an opportunity to combat the linked issues of biodiversity loss and climate change.

"Farmers, ranchers and producers play a critical role in conserving our nation's wildlife," Pfaffko pointed out. "With so many of our nation's imperiled species occurring on private lands, depending on private lands, they depend on this Farm Bill."

Pfaffko noted Defenders of Wildlife's recommendations for the Farm Bill include incentivizing projects with co-benefits for climate and wildlife and providing national-level funding for all Working Lands for Wildlife initiatives.

Kristine Akland, the Missoula-based Northern Rockies senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the last farm bill also included exclusions for some timber sales from analyses on their environmental impact. She stressed taking away the exclusion would help protect some of Montana's diverse habitats.

"That allows the public to be involved in that process to ensure that these projects aren't completely, irreparably damaging the important ecosystems in the Northern Rockies but also, really, across the country," Akland explained.

The current Farm Bill from 2018 expires Sept. 30.

Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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