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Policy Recommendations for Improving USDA Conservation Programs

Exponentially increasing regenerative farming practices is an incredible opportunity to benefit the environment, producers, and society. America’s working lands represent 40% of the nation’s acreage. Responsible, increased investments in working lands conservation and regenerative agriculture are critical to help the Biden administration reach its goal of negative emission farming and engaging 30% of the nation’s land and water in conservation, as well as to reaching a growing number of climate commitments made by farm groups and food companies. We can do this in a way that makes economic sense for producers and advances equitable access to federal conservation programs. To accomplish these goals, we need to exponentially increase funding for existing conservation programs.

USDA and Congress have several immediate opportunities to promote climate smart agriculture throughout the United States. Our policy recommendations outline how USDA and Congress can:

  • Exponentially increase conservation program funding,
  • Elevate an integrated focus on conservation and climate solutions at USDA,
  • Tailor existing conservation programs to maximize effectiveness and promote whole-farm conservation planning,
  • Expand and improve technical assistance for adoption of conservation and climate-smart practices and systems, and
  • Align financial incentives to recognize the financial and risk-reduction benefits of conservation.

Our policy recommendations center the advice and guidance from producers to design programs that will work for them, by suggesting ways to expand and improve our current conservation delivery system to advance whole-farm ecosystem planning and by providing thought leadership about the challenge of incentivizing early adopters to maintain their historic practices and progress. If implemented, the policy recommendations will support our transition towards more climate-resilient and profitable agricultural and forestry systems.

Recommendations for Investing in Working Lands Conservation

Our recommendations for investing in working lands conservation will help USDA expand and streamline existing conservation programs for maximum impact.