header picture

(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) In this article, Ashley Dayer, an assistant professor of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, and Seth Lutter, a Master's student, both at Virginia Tech, note the conservation section of the Farm Bill is the single largest source of funding for soil, water and wildlife conservation on private land in the U.S. With 60 percent of the U.S. land privately owned, working with farmers and ranchers is critical if we are to conserve land and wildlife. President Trump’s 2019 budget request would, however, slash funding for farm bill conservation programs by $13 billion over 10 years - on top of cuts made in the 2014 farm bill. In a recent study conducted by the authors, they found that it is highly uncertain that farmers who voluntarily participate in conservation efforts on their land would continue to do so if programs are cut further. Trump’s proposed cuts, say Dayer and Lutter, have drawn criticism from both conservation groups and farmers. They note that these programs appear to have bipartisan support in Congress. Still, funding will be tight for the 2018 farm bill, and Congress will face funding decisions that have implications for conservation outcomes and landowners. “Further budget cuts in farm bill conservation programs would undermine environmental protection in multiple way,” they write. “Less land and wildlife would be protected, and fewer farmers would be able to enroll in these programs. Moreover, as our study concluded, landowners are unlikely to continue their conservation efforts when payments end.” The authors suggest: “To promote conservation more effectively over time, it would make sense to consider farm bill policy changes such as issuing longer-duration contracts and designing post-contract transitions that encourage continued conservation. Further budget cuts will only reduce future conservation on private land, and could undo much of the good that these programs have already achieved.”

Posted February 14th, 2018