The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) operates the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and other programs that help farmers and ranchers put in place conservation measures that conserve soil, protect rivers, and provide better habitat for fish and wildlife.
Together, these programs provide more than $4.5 billion per year, making them the largest source of private lands conservation funding in the country.
Innovative Uses for Farm Conservation Programs
At a NWF conference in April, 2009, in Nebraska City, experts from across the country presented innovative ways Farm Bill conservation programs are being used to benefit fish and wildlife. These programs can protect fisheries from pollution, provide quail habitat in Missouri, restore longleaf pine forests in the southeast, and protect wildlife corridors in the west.
View the presentations given at the conference, and read about other innovative uses of Farm Bill conservation programs to benefit fish and wildlife here.
Funding Decisions Critical for Conservation Programs
The 2008 Farm Bill provided five years worth of funding for most US Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs. Each year, Congress passes annual appropriations bills that provide funding for USDA and other agencies.
In some cases, those appropriations bills have restricted funding for important conservation programs, even thought the funding was supposed to be guaranteed through the Farm Bill. The House and Senate are now considering USDA appropriations bills that will put in place conservation funding for 2010, see more here.
New Rules Implement Farm Conservation Programs
Since November, 2008, the US Department of Agriculture has been issuing rules to put in place the new programs created by the 2008 Farm Bill, and to implement the changes to existing programs made by the bill. The rules are critically important to ensuring that the programs provide real fish, wildlife, and other conservation benefits in rural America.
NWF has been carefully analyzing the proposed rules, and has filed comments on many of the rules along with NWF affiliates that share NWF’s interest in farm conservation programs. For more information, click here.
NWF set up four email networks to encourage communication between people interested in the Farm Bill and wildlife, working at the state level to leverage these programs for fish and wildlife, interested in the appropriations process, or following the rules process to implement these prgorams. To sign up or for more information, click here.