The Strengthening Our Investment in Land Stewardship (SOIL Stewardship) Act of 2018 (H.R. 5188), introduced on March 6, 2018 by Representative Tim Walz (D-MN), lays out a comprehensive strategy for working lands conservation programs that improves and protects natural resource while enhancing the productivity of agricultural lands, by:
Privately owned crop, pasture, and rangelands account for nearly half of the landmass in the United States. Given the footprint of agricultural lands, farmers and ranchers understandably have a major role in the management of our shared natural resources. In order to provide producers with the tools they need to protect and enhance the environment, as well as the viability of their own operations, the next farm bill must invest in our two largest working lands conservation programs – the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Increasing our investment in these programs, as well as making much-needed updates and improvements, will better support farmers in protecting and rebuilding soil, improving irrigation management, providing clean water, and enhancing wildlife habitat.
The SOIL Stewardship Act will ensure that these tools work for farmers and ranchers by building upon the distinct and complementary identities of EQIP and CSP, strengthening the accessibility and impact of these two core working lands conservation programs. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is committed to supporting farmers as they work to actively manage and improve the health of our shared natural resources, as well as the productivity of their land in agricultural production. NSAC therefore supports this bill’s inclusion in the next farm bill.