Conservation, Forestry, and Energy
Few people realize that the Farm Bill is the largest single source of federal funding for conservation on U.S. private land. Nearly 907 million acres, or 50% of the US, is currently managed as cropland, pastureland, or rangeland. Farmers across the country are utilizing farm bill conservation programs to enhance habitat for wildlife populations, combat climate change, and safeguard the nation’s air, land, and water resources on these private lands.
The 2008 Farm Bill provides 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 though the funding was supposed to be guaranteed through the Farm Bill (text adapted from The National Wildlife Federation).
Since April of 2011, Congress has cut funding for Farm Bill conservation programs by more than $500 million and plans to cut an additional $700 million to $1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2012.
More to Read!
The Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act 2011 Appraisal provides an overview of land use and the U.S. agricultural sector; of the status, condition, and trends of natural resources on non-Federal lands; and of USDA’s program for soil and water resources conservation. Looking ahead, it examines interrelated issues that have implications for U.S. agriculture and forestry: climate change, biofuels production, and the quality and availability of water.
RCA Interactive Data Viewer (2011) This site supports the RCA by providing data from a variety of sources, including data on the status and trends of natural resources, conservation efforts (funding and conservation practices applied), and the agricultural sector.
Farmer’s Guide to Conservation Stewardship Programs (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, August, 2011)
Fueling Resistance: Rx. For Trouble (David Wallinga, Huffington Post, June 6, 2011) Antibiotic use in ethanol production.
High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion (William Neuman, NY Times, April 12, 2011) Soil erosion is on the rise. Environmentalists claim that enforcement of conservation plans by the USDA is not as strict as it should be and that the gains in fighting erosion have stalled or are being undercut.
Understanding the Farm Bill: Good Soil and the Programs that Protect It (Anne Bukowski, 2010)
Background on Farm Bill and Wildlife (National Wildlife Federation) Provides a brief summary of some of the Farm Bill’s conservation programs.
A Targeted Conservation Approach for Improving Environmental Quality (Iowa State University Extension, 2008)
A Fair Farm Bill for Conservation (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 2007)
A Fair Farm Bill for Renewable Energy (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 2007)
Howard, Albert. The War in the Soil. Emmaus, PA: Organic Gardening, 1946. Print.