See more from this Session: Symposium--Supporting Ecosystem Services with Conservation Agriculture: I
Tuesday, October 18, 2011: 11:15 AM
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Room 217C, Concourse Level
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) added or re-authorized numerous conservation programs contained in the Food Security Act of 1985. Many of the conservation and ecosystem services related programs in the Farm Bill are administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). One such program is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), where assistance can be provided for installing and maintaining conservation practices that sustain food and fiber production while enhancing soil, water, and related natural resources such as grazing land, forest land, wetland, wildlife, and conserving energy. The Grassland Reserve Program supports working grazing operations, enhances plant and animal diversity, and protects grasslands from conversion to other uses. The Healthy Forests Reserve Program promotes recovery of threatened and endangered species, improves biodiversity, and enhances C sequestration in forest ecosystems. The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program provides assistance for developing upland, wetland, aquatic and other types of wildlife habitat. The common thread among these and other programs administered by NRCS is their voluntary approach for providing assistance through partnerships with private landowners and communities to protect, restore, and enhance our natural resources. These partnerships are developed to maximize the program benefits at scales ranging from individual farms to highly coordinated landscape efforts that address multiple ecosystem services. For example, a Sage Grouse Initiative conserves critical sage-grouse habitat in Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado, while also protecting approximately 49,000 acres of working grazing land in those states. The Mississippi River Basin Initiative combines the resources from several programs to help producers in 12 states implement conservation practices and systems that avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff; improve wildlife habitat; and maintain agricultural productivity. These and other programs are making profound contributions to the health of our Nation’s natural resources and therefore to its future.