National

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.

What Is the Farm Bill?


National farm policy was first developed in the 1930s to mitigate the catastrophic economic impact of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl on America’s farm and rural economies. The Izaak Walton League became involved in agricultural policy in 1937, when the League adopted a resolution calling for a national program to retire fields in mountainous areas from agricultural use.

The Farm Bill is a package of laws that governs a broad array of federal policies, including farm income support, food assistance, agricultural trade, marketing, conservation, and rural development. Congress revisits the policies covered in this legislation approximately every five years through a reauthorization process that revises, adds, removes, and extends components of federal law.

The Farm Bill has greater impact on more U.S. land than any other single piece of federal legislation. Consider that the contiguous 48 states cover 1.9 billion acres of land, of which 71 percent is privately held rural land. Excluding forest land, the private land in agricultural use totals nearly 1 billion acres. By comparison, the surface area of developed land is just 6 percent of total U.S. land use, or 111 million acres. There have been 17 Farm Bills in our nation’s history, beginning with the bill approved in 1933. The most recent Farm Bill was the Agriculture Act of 2014, which was signed into law in February 2014.
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