The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service released their final rule to update the Conservation Stewardship Program, which the agency was directed to do in the 2018 Farm Bill. “With the help of feedback from our agricultural producers and others in the industry, NRCS has prioritized the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, including important changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program, which is designed to help farmers put more robust conservation activities in place,” says acting NRCS boss Kevin Norton. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says there are some improvements in the final rule, especially in its inclusion of soil health as a priority. “However, the rule does not elaborate on how this goal will be achieved,” Larew says in the Hagstrom Report. “We want the agency to provide more specifics about how the program will help farmers build soil health to help sequester atmospheric carbon, increase yields, and prevent erosion.” Another aspect of the rule NFU is concerned about includes the evaluation process giving preference to first-time applicants over previous participants, which Larew says basically penalizes those who’ve taken part in long-term stewardship.