Conservation was one of the primary motivations behind early farm bill legislation. Tackling the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s was especially imperative. Over the course of time, the suite of policies within this title have partnered with farm families and private landowners to make long-term investments to protect and promote soil health, wetlands, water and air quality, and wildlife and wildlife habitat. Specific climate initiatives to capture and offset more carbon emissions have also recently been added.
Authority for most of the conservation policies resides in the 1985 Farm Bill where significant improvements were made to strengthen natural resource protection and promotion. In more recent Farm Bills, there has been an increasing focus on achieving conservation through working lands rather than retiring acreage. Importantly, most of the policies are voluntary and incentives-based, aspects that make the initiatives both popular and highly successful. The exceptions include mandatory swampbuster and sodbuster provisions protecting wetlands and soil health. The Conservation Title to the Farm Bill has been recognized as one of the most effective environmental laws on the books today.
Amongst the policies in the Conservation Title lives the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), and Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG).