Farmers Doing Conservation Work May Be Affected By Changes To Stewardship Program

USDA Program Authorized By Congress To Work On Fewer Acres Of Land This Year

Anne Marie Peterson (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Farmers seeking assistance to conserve soil, air, and water on their working lands may be impacted by changes made by Congress to a federal stewardship program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Stewardship Program helps producers sustain their cropland, pasture, or forest. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized less land for the program, down to 7.7 million acres this year. It’s unclear if fewer Wisconsin farmers will be able to receive assistance.

Despite the cut, the program offers new enhancements this year, like improvements to wildlife habitat in forests and soil health on farms.

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George Reistad, the assistant policy director for the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, said an individual farmer’s practices can impact the greater community.

“Reward the best and motivate the rest,” said Reistad. “So, reward conservation farmers that were already doing great conservation work on their farms and then motivate others to do the same.”

The deadline to apply for Conservation Stewardship Program funds has been extended to March 13. Farmers can apply at their for the program at their local USDA Service Center.