2014 Farm Bill Offers Voluntary Conservation Programs
The 2014 Farm Bill was enacted on February 7, 2014. In this new Farm Bill, NRCS offers voluntary conservation programs that benefit both agricultural producers and the environment. Producers will find that NRCS programs have been streamlined and are easier for them to use. Field staff will find that the new, simplified program structure will improve their ability to assist producers. The Farm Bill continues to provide producers with financial and technical assistance and promotes conservation stewardship. It also combines easement programs to make them more accessible.
Some of the key program changes include:
Financial assistance programs: The Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, will absorb the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and make similar practices available. The Conservation Stewardship Program and Agricultural Management Assistance will be continued.
Easement programs: The agency’s key easement programs will be merged into a new program called the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, or ACEP. ACEP includes the former Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program. Funding for wetland and grassland protection expired September 30, 2013, and the 2014 Farm Bill reinstates funding for these critical efforts under ACEP.
Partnership programs: The agency’s regional conservation efforts have a home in a new program—the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP. Critical conservation areas for this new program will be designated by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. NRCS will also select project areas at the state and national level.
For more information on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/FarmBill. As policy and regulation are written, we will have more information forthcoming. With the tools and resources provided through the 2014 Farm Bill, NRCS stands committed to making a major difference in the quality of our natural resources.