Main Conservation Programs

Title 2 focuses on conservation programs. This Farm Bill consolidated a number of programs into larger programs like ACEP & RCPP, and reduced the mandatory funding overall. 

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

Purpose: Provides annual rental payments to producers to replace crops on highly erodible and environmentally sensitive land with long-term resource conserving plantings. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.  Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. Enrollment is to be capped at 27.5 million acres in FY 2014, and gradually reduced to 24 million acres in FY 2017 and 2018. Grasslands enrollment is capped at 2 million acres annually through FY 2018.
Funding is available as payment for producers enrolled, and for when transitioning land to new owners. 
The program also includes the "Farmable Wetlands" pilot program which is allowed to restore up to 750,00 acres of previously farmed wetlands and wetland buffer.
The entire program is administered by the USDA's Farm Service Agency.
Funding: For incentive activities: $10 million available until FY 2018. For CRP transitions: $33 million available until FY 2018.
History: The program was created in the 1985 Farm Bill, and is the nation's largest private lands conservation program.
For More Information, Visit These Sites:
The USDA's FSA site
The USDA's FSA site on the "Farmable Wetlands Program"
Congressional Research Service Report available via The National Agricultural Law Center
Ducks Unlimited
Environmental Working Group
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

Purpose: Provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers wishing to maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. CSP provides two types of payments through five-year contracts: annual payments for installing new conservation activities and maintaining existing practices; and supplemental payments for adopting a resource-conserving crop rotation. The program can enroll up to 10 million acres annually through 2022. The program is administered by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, and is available in every state and county.
Funding: Funding for CSP is calculated differently as the USDA is given an annual amount equal to what it will cost to achieve a specified amount of land. There is a per person/entity payment limit of $200,000 total between FY 2014 an 2018, or $40,000 annually.
History: CSP evolved from the Conservation Security Program in the 2008 Farm Bill, with the most notable change being the expansion of the program nationwide. The CSP is currently the largest federal conservation program by acreage. 
For More Information, Visit These Sites:
The USDA's NRCS site
Land Stewardship Project
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Equipment Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Purpose: Provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. It also assists producers to meet regulations. Contracts can be up to ten years in length. This program is administered by the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Funding: Mandatory funding to be $1.35 billion for FY 2014 with gradual increases to $1.75 billion in FY 2018. $25 million to be annually earmarked for contracts addresssing air quality concerns. Beginning, socially disadvantaged, veteran and limited resource producers are eligible for advanced payment of up to 50%. There is a participant payment limit of $450,000 total from FY 2014 to FY 2018.
History: EQIP was created with the 1996 Farm Bill and has been reauthorized in every bill since then. The biggest change with the 2014 Farm Bill was integrating the former Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.
For More Information, Visit These Sites:
The USDA's NRCS site
American Forest Foundation
Environmental Working Group
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)

Purpose: To protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses, thorough Agricultural Land Easements. And provide habitats for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species; improve water quality; reduce flooding; recharge groundwater; protect biological diversity; and provide opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities, through Wetland Reserve Easements. This program is administered by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Funding: Mandatory funding to be $400 million in FY2014, increasing incrementally to $500 million in  FY2017 and reduced to $250 million in FY 2018.
History: ACEP is created with the 2014 Farm Bill. It consolidates three former programs: the Wetlands Reserve Program, the Grassland Reserve Program, and the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program.
For More Information, Visit These Sites:
The USDA's NRCS program page
Ducks Unlimited
Land Trust Alliance
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

Purpose: Furthers conservation, restoration, and sustainability efforts on regional or watershed scales, and encourages partners to cooperate with producers in meeting or avoiding regulatory requirements and implementing projects. This program is administered by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Funding: $100 million to be authorized annually and available until expended through FY 2018. Funding is alloted in three different categories: 35% to critical conservation areas, 40% to national projects and 25% to state projects. RCPP also annually pulls 7% of funding from EQIP, CSP, ACEP, and Healthy Forests Reserve Program; if that funding is not committed by April 1st, it returns to the other program.
History: RCPP is created with the 2014 Farm Bill. It consolidates four former programs: the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, and the Great Lakes Basin Program.
For More Information, Visit These Sites:
The USDA's NRCS program page
American Farmland Trust
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Chesapeake Bay Program
FarmDocDaily
National Association of Conservation Districts
National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition
USA Rice Federation