USDA Farm Bill Conservation Programs

Over the past decade, the Farm Bill has become the largest potential source of funding for fish and wildlife habitat conservation.  The 2008 Farm Bill authorized $23 billion dollars for five years with about $1 billion annually that directly targets wildlife habitat and indirectly wildlife benefit through soil and water conservation practices that improve environmental quality.

Because of its potential impact in the Intermountain West, the IWJV instituted a Farm Bill Initiative in 2008 to increase the effectiveness of Farm Bill conservation programs in achieving bird habitat conservation goals.

The Farm Bill is a compilation of many different legislative acts that have been passed by Congress to enhance agricultural productivity and conservation on private lands, as well as public lands where it benefits agricultural producers. Although the Farm Bill implies an emphasis on croplands, it benefits all lands including grasslands, forests, and wetlands. Farm Bill conservation programs provide for conservation easements, land protection, and cost-share opportunities for restoration and management practices. Each program has its own goals, ranking criteria, eligibility factors, and rules. The two federal agencies that fund Farm Bill conservation programs are the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Services Agency.

Every 5 or 6 years the Farm Bill is revisited by Congress for modification of existing programs or the addition of new ones.  Over the past 20 years, the wildlife conservation community has become increasingly involved in shaping the legislation because of its importance to fish and wildlife conservation, leading to a diversity of conservation programs and improvement of existing programs. We plan to post more news on the 2012-2013 Farm Bill as it develops.

Some Farm Bill conservation programs are more relevant to the JV partnership than others.  The most relevant programs to habitat delivery in the Intermountain West include:

Easement and Land Protection Programs

Restoration and Management Programs

Grants and Other Programs

Special Initiatives

  • Through a new paradigm of “Conservation Beyond Boundaries,” NRCS now implements special initiatives at large scales and across jurisdictional boundaries. Read more about these initiatives.