Grass buffer strips between fields. Photo credit: NRCS Wisconsin

Grass buffer strips between fields. Photo credit: NRCS Wisconsin

Give our Resources the Opportunity to Work (GROW) Act

S. 2557

The Give our Resources the Opportunity to Work (GROW) Act of 2018 (S. 2557), introduced on March 15, 2018 by Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Bob Casey (D-PA), lays out a comprehensive strategy to enhance support for farmers’ efforts to improve soil health and water quality. This bill reforms the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to target federal investments in ways that protect the most sensitive acres while empowering producers to adopt and actively manage high-level conservation activities on working lands. The GROW Act will help producers to take stewardship to the next level by:

  • Improving working lands conservation programs’ ability to meet the growing demand for conservation assistance
  • Targeting land retirement to the most sensitive land
  • Prioritizing enrollment of the conservation practices and activities that most benefit water quality and soil health
  • Increasing program accessibility by enhancing coordination and supporting conservation planning
  • Enhancing conservation asssistance for historically underserved participants

Privately owned crop, pasture, and rangelands account for nearly half of the landmass in the United States. Given the large environmental 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 be effective stewards, the next farm bill must invest in federal conservation programs that support farmers in their conservation efforts, while simultaneously protecting sensitive land and natural resources.

Combined, CSP, EQIP, and CRP account for 90 percent of conservation spending, Congress’ priority in the farm bill should therefore be on enhancing these programs’ effectiveness and accessibility.

The GROW Act will provide the assistance and incentives that farmers need to protect the natural resources on and around their operations, support the productivity of working lands, and protect the most sensitive acres. NSAC thanks Senators Ernst, Grassley, Brown, and Casey for their leadership in advancing these thoughtful reforms, and fully supports the inclusion of the GROW Act in the next farm bill.

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  • Check out our Take Action! page for ways to get involved in the 2018 Farm Bill process