Updated: Mar 2, 2022
Spencer Torbett, Policy Officer & Staff Attorney for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, led our third webinar in our Farm Bill series. He walked our audience through Title II of the Farm Bill, the conservation title. Keep reading for an overview of Title II, its importance to Indian Country, information about our next webinar, and the link to his presentation.
[C]onservation was one of the primary purposes of the original Farm Bill through incentives created to allow farmers to cut back on their acreage during periods of extreme weather conditions. Starting in the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and what was to become the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) organized and worked with locally led Soil and Water Conservation Districts to help farmers with terraces, shelterbelts, and other conservation techniques. In the 1950s, a “soil bank” was created to put the most highly erodible ground back into grass or other conservation uses. In the 1970s, new authorities were created to help farmers as other laws like the Clean Water, Clean Air, and the Endangered Species Acts came into existence. Spending on conservation programs has grown to roughly $5 billion per year. These programs are important tools for farmers, because conservation practices often do not translate to profit. From its desperate beginnings in the Dust Bowl, the NRCS has worked with farm families to create the most sustainable and efficient agricultural industry in history.
Since 1996, the Conservation Title has focused more on working lands costshare assistance through programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), and the Conservation Security Program (CSP).
The lands within Indian Country are in significant need of intensified conservation practice implementation. Yet, even with multiple efforts across previous Farm Bill negotiations, the NRCS conservation program portfolio still needs attention so that the programs and authorities can be more effective on tribal lands. The lands within Indian Country are in significant need of intensified conservation practice implementation.
- Regaining our Future: An Assessment of Risks and Opportunities for Native Communities in the 2018 Farm Bill