American producers are hardworking people. Every day they face myriad economic and environmental obstacles and challenges (e.g., extreme weather, soil and plant health issues, and pests) and work to overcome them. Empowering farmers with the skills, resources, and training to take on the challenges that come with stewardship is critical for ensuring our farms and food supply are resilient and healthy. The benefits of on-farm conservation are widespread and far reaching – they help to ensure cleaner drinking water for our urban and rural communities, more robust habitats for wildlife, and farm operations that are sustainable long-term.
For decades, voluntary conservation programs offered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have helped to produce high-impact results for farmers and the public, but today many farmers find it increasingly difficult to access this support.
Conservation is a win-win investment that protects and enhances our shared natural resources and bolsters farmers’ bottom line. We must therefore ensure that federal policies incentivize, encourage, and reward stewardship efforts, and that federal programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) are funded to meet farmer demand for conservation assistance. The farm bill should help achieve these goals by: