Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Make Farm Bill Conservation Title More Farmer-Friendly, Support Voluntary Conservation Programs

BISMARCK, N.D. – At the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts annual meeting today, Senator John Hoeven outlined his efforts to make the farm bill conservation programs more farmer-friendly. This includes improving programs at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Hoeven is advancing this goal both as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and as a member of the Senate-House farm bill conference committee, where he is working to pass a strong farm bill into law as soon as possible.

“Our farmers and ranchers have the greatest interest in maintaining their land, which they continue to demonstrate through their good stewardship,” said Hoeven. “The conservation programs under the farm bill should give our agriculture producers the tools they need to succeed, rather than impose unworkable mandates. That’s why we’re working to enhance voluntary programs like CRP, EQIP and CSP and, at the same time, provide relief from NRCS’s wetlands regulations. These efforts will help ensure soil and water quality for generations to come, while also helping farmers to maintain and grow their operations.”

            Among other things, Hoeven is working to ensure the final version the farm bill:

  • Provides Relief from NRCS Wetlands Regulations – Both the Senate and House farm bills contain language related to defining minimal effects exemptions and mitigation banking. Hoeven hosted the NRCS Acting Chief and Under Secretary Bill Northey, who oversees NRCS, in North Dakota to help advance these priorities.
  • Maintains the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) – EQIP and CSP are voluntary programs under NRCS that provide financial and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices on their land.
  • Expands Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Acreage – CRP, which is administered by the FSA, allows farmers to set aside environmentally sensitive land and encourage plant species that improve soil health in exchange for yearly rental payments.
  • Supports Agriculture Research – Both the Senate and House farm bills maintain strong land-grant formula research funding. This supports the work of institutions like North Dakota State University and the North Dakota Extension Service, which conduct research on innovative conservation practices for preserving and reclaiming land and water.