The 2014 Farm Bill provides over $57 billion for conservation over a 10-year span, representing one of the nation’s largest conservation investments. These funds help support improved water and air quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat around the country.
Water: Agriculture provides food, fuel, and fiber to people around the world, but it comes at a cost. From drainage of wetlands that provide invaluable water quality benefits to fertilizer and pesticide runoff from fields, agriculture remains one of the leading sources of pollution to the nation’s waterways. The Farm Bill’s working lands conservation programs, like the Conservation Stewardship Program, help farmers implement practices that can reduce erosion and runoff while the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program helps landowners permanently protect wetlands on their fields. Additionally, the farm bill’s wetlands conservation provision – known as Swampbuster – renders producers ineligible for federal program benefits if they drain a wetland on their property.
Land & Soil: In addition to general conservation programs that realize water, air, and soil quality benefits, several farm bill programs and policies work specifically to protect soil health and preserve natural landscapes. First, the Sodbuster provision requires producers to hold a conservation plan when farming highly-erodible lands on their property or risk losing federal benefits. In an effort to stem the loss of native grasslands to production agriculture, the 2014 Farm Bill also included a new Sodsaver provision in six Midwestern and Great Plains states that drastically cuts subsidies to producers who convert native sod.
Wildlife: Along with policy provisions and easement programs protecting vital wetland and grassland habitat, the 30-year-old Conservation Reserve Program pays producers to set aside land from agricultural production, providing millions of acres of wildlife habitat on the nation's farm lands.