The $6 billion per year provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs is our nation's largest single source of funding to help farmers and ranchers adopt conservation systems that protect our soil, air, woods, waters and wildlife. Major USDA programs that provide support for farmers and ranchers include:
- Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which funds restoration of rural wetlands and the purchase of conservation easements that protect wetlands, grasslands and farmland from destruction or development.
- Conservation Reserve Program, which pays landowners to put marginal cropland into grasses, shrubs or trees to conserve soil, reduce polluted runoff and create wildlife habitat.
- Conservation Stewardship Program, which provides funds to reward farmers who adopt whole-farm conservation improvements like adopting an Integrated Pest Management system or installing fencing and water facilities needed for a rotational grazing system.
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which pays farmers and ranchers part of the cost of adopting a conservation practice like planting cover crops, purchasing new irrigation equipment or installing a terrace to reduce erosion on cropland.
- Conservation Technical Assistance, which pays for the cost of USDA employees who help farmers and ranchers develop and implement conservation plans.
Several other USDA conservation programs promote partnerships with states, Tribes and local agencies and organizations to deliver conservation on farms and ranches. These include:
- Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, which has funded state-level partnerships with agencies and organizations that provide expertise and education to help landowners conserve grazing land.
- Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which promotes partnerships with state and local agencies and organizations that combine funding to provide conservation incentives to farmers and ranchers in targeted watersheds or regions.
- Voluntary Public Access & Habitat Improvement Program, which helps fund state and Tribal programs that pay landowners to provide access to farm and ranch land for hunting, fishing or other outdoor recreation.
Funding for these programs varies from state to state depending on the acres of farm and ranch land, the natural resource challenges faced in the state and local interest in enrolling in the programs. Learn more about the benefits of USDA farm and ranch conservation programs in these reports.