Conservation and Sustainability
Key Farm Bill Conservation Programs
Conservation programs passed in the 2014 Farm Bill help producers maintain and improve their land through cost-sharing and project development.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
The 2014 Farm Bill reduced the acre cap for CRP to 24 million acres and provided for managed harvesting of biomass subject to the purposes of CRP and soil, water and wildlife considerations. For more, visit the USDA CRP page.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
This is a voluntary program that encourages agricultural and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt new ones. The program was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill and capped at 10 million acres enrolled per fiscal year. For more visit the USDA CSP page.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
EQIP provides cost-share payments and technical assistance to producers undertaking certain conservation practices and activities. For more visit the USDA EQIP page.
Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated the Wetland Reserve Program, the Grassland Reserve Program and the Farmland Protection Program into one easement program. For more information, visit the USDA ACEP page.
Sustainability and the Field to Market Alliance
NAWG is engaged in conversations about sustainability as they relate to farms and the food system. A third- or fourth-generation farmer’s idea of sustainable practices might be very different than that of a city-dweller far removed from the farm. Bridging the knowledge gap is an important part of these discussions.
NAWG has joined producer representatives, conservation groups, members of academia and others in the Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture coalition, which has the goal of defining, measuring and documenting changes in sustainability over time, allowing agriculture to better tell its story about gains that have already been made and set priorities for next steps. Through financial and in-kind support of Field to Market as well as participation in its collaborative decision-making structure, NAWG helps to enable the development of tools and programs that increase awareness of the sustainability of wheat production through Field to Market’s continuous improvement program. Through these efforts, NAWG hopes to strike a long-term balance between environmental concerns, natural resource concerns and feeding an estimated nine billion people by the year 2050.
Field to Market offers an online Fieldprint ® Platform calculator to help producers assess their use of land, energy and water, greenhouse gas emissions and soil loss and explore various scenarios that may help further improve their use of natural resources.The Alliance also undertakes and distributes extensive research about agricultural sustainability metrics over time.
In 2017, two wheat farmers were the focus of Field to Market Farmer Spotlights. Information on Justin Knopf of Gypsum Kansas and Mike Milligan of Cass City Michigan have been using the Fieldprint ® Platform can be found on the Field to Market website.
Environmental Trends in Wheat Production
In Field to Market’s Environmental and Socioeconomic Indicators for Measuring Outcomes of on Farm Agricultural Production in the United States (Third Edition), data analyzed includes positive trends for wheat production in the U.S. The report included the following assessments:
- The irrigation water use, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions indicators for wheat production have all improved on a per-bushel basis, with either steady or increasing per-acre trends between 1980 and 2015.
- Soil Conservation on wheat production in the United States improved over 30 percent on the Field to Market soil conservation indicator between 1980 and 2015.
- Adoption of conservation tillage practices for wheat have increased since the mid-1990s, with roughly 20 percent in reduced or no-till in 1985 increasing to close to 60 percent of wheat acreage in reduced or no-till in 2015.
- Energy use for the production of wheat in the United States improved almost 20 percent on the energy use indicator between 1980 and 2015.
- Energy use per bushel of wheat decreased approximately 20,000 BTU between 1980 and 2015.