USDA is leveraging its authorities under the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to bring in new types of partners and expand opportunities in voluntary conservation. In direct response to feedback from stakeholders, USDA updated the program’s rule regarding matching fund requirements, and invested in additional staff to work directly with partners. The program is part of the Conservation Reserve Program and enables USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, through Farm Service Agency, and partners to co-invest in partner-led projects. The program also plays an important role in USDA’s broader climate change strategy, bringing together producers, landowners and partners for climate-smart land management. The rule also updated policy to provide a full annual rental rate to producers impacted by ordinances and regulations that require a resource conserving or environmental protection measure. At present, all partners are States. However, FSA is strongly encouraging Tribes and non-governmental organizations to consider partnerships. Currently, the program has 34 projects in 26 states, and more than 860,000 acres are enrolled.
USDA Expands Partnerships for Conservation