The 2007 Farm Bill should simplify and streamline conservation programs while increasing overall funding by $7.8 billion over ten years, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns says.
The USDA farm bill proposal's conservation title aims to make programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program more user-friendly, Johanns says. "We are proposing to do just that and to bolster our commitment to conservation through the largest increase in funding for any title within our farm bill proposals."
The Administration's proposal supports reauthorization of the Conservation Reserve Program at its current acreage level. However, priority would be given to the enrollment of whole fields that qualify to produce perennial biomass crops for cellulosic energy production. Continuous CRP enrollment and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program would also continue.
The Wetlands Reserve Program would be enhanced and expanded. The enrollment cap would expand from 2.3 million acres to 3.5 million acres with an annual goal of enrolling 250,000 acres. The easement function of the Emergency Watershed Program and the WRP would be combined into one WRP. Mandatory funding of more than $2 billion would be added to the program.
For more on the conservation title and the rest of USDA's farm bill proposals, visit www.USDA.gov/farmbill.