Farm Bill

What is the Farm Bill?  The Farm Bill is the commonly used name for the Food, Conservation and Energy Act.  The Farm Bill is the primary agriculture and food policy bill for the United States.  It is negotiated, debated and passed by Congress every five years or so and provides the basis for the agriculture, conservation and other programs under the purview of the United States Department of Agriculture.  

The 2008 Farm Bill, which provided many critical programs, including Conservation Title programs, was authorized through September 30, 2012.  Since the USDA's authority or funding to deliver the many programs has expired, the USDA has far fewer tools available to help strengthen agriculture and to address resource concerns on working lands.  To read Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's statement on the expiration of authority for 2008 Farm Bill programs, click here.   With the status of the 2012 Farm Bill in constant change, this webpage will not attempt to stay current, until a more clear picture of the future of the Farm Bill becomes evident.

To learn more about the current status of conservation programs extended past the September 30, 2012 deadline, please contact your local Conservation District and USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service office.

Farm Bill Programs
Farm Bill programs are voluntary and provide significant opportunities for farmers, ranchers and owners of working land. It is up to each individual, with assistance from local Conservation District and USDA-NRCS employees, to determine how these programs can benefit their operation.

Applications to participate in the below programs are accepted at local NRCS field offices on a continuous basis.  Cut-off dates are announced when submitted applications are pooled, ranked and selected for funding.  

Overview of Programs
Read below for basic program information and click on the links provided to view further program details.  

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).  The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) with NRCS providing technical assistance through conservation planning in partnership with local Conservation Districts.  In Michigan, several programs fall under the CRP program, including State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), Continuous Conservation Reserve Program and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. 

Program information about CRP is available on the FSA website.  Detailed program information including Michigan specific opportunities is available at the NRCS Conservation Reserve Program web page

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) encourages agricultural and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones on their operations.  In Michigan, the focus of the CSP program will be targeted toward natural resources that are of specific conern for specific geographic areas within the state.  CSP funding is available in 2013, learn more by visiting the NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program web page.   

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides financial and technical assistance to landowners for improving their conservation methods on agricultural lands. The program offers assistance for a wide variety of conservation measures on all types of agricultural land including row crops, orchards, pastures, forage crops and managed forest land.  Michigan priorities are developed annually from input from local workgroups based on county resource assessments spearheaded by local Conservation Districts to better address local needs.  A state Technical Committee comprised of representation from these local work groups, Tribal groups, commodity groups, and conservation partners advise NRCS on the implementation of EQIP within Michigan.  Several opportunities are available through the EQIP program, including Seasonal High Tunnels, Air Quality Initiative, On-Farm Energy Initiative, to name just a few.  EQIP funding is available in 2013, learn more about the many opportunities and 2013 funding opportunities by visiting the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program web page

Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP). The Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program provides matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranch land in agricultural uses. FRPP funds go to existing farmland preservation programs that use the matching funds to purchase development rights from landowners. The program’s goal is to preserve farmland that is at risk of being converted to non-agricultural uses.  Learn more by visiting the NRCS Farm & Ranch Lands Protection Program web page. 

Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP). The Grassland Reserve Program is a voluntary program that helps landowners and operators restore and protect grassland, including rangeland, pastureland, shrubland, and certain other lands, while maintaining the areas for grazing. GRP contracts and easements prohibit the production of crops, other than grasses and hay, that require breaking the soil surface except for appropriate land management activities included in a grassland conservation plan.  Enrollment options include permanent, rental and restoration agreements. Learn more by visiting the NRCS Grasslands Reserve Program web page.

Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP).  The Healthy Forest Reserve program assists landowners to restore, enhance and protect forestland resources on private lands with the objective of promoting the recovery of endangered and threatened species, improve plant and animal biodiversity and enhance carbon sequestration.  The program provides the opportunity for easements through 30 year contracts and 10-year cost-share agreements.  This program is made available through NRCS.  To learn more, visit the NRCS Healthy Forests Reserve Program web page

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program assists landowners in improving wildlife habitat on their property. WHIP provides technical and financial assistance to landowners to establish or improve wildlife and aquatic habitat through practices such as native grass and tree plantings and wildlife management practices. To learn more, visit the NRCS Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program webpage

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).  The Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary program that allows landowners to restore former wetlands that were converted to farmland. Through WRP, NRCS will provide financial assistance to a landowner to restore wetlands on their property. Landowners also have the option of enrolling their restored wetlands into a 10-year, 30-year, or permanent-easement.  Learn more about this program by visiting the NRCS Wetland Reserve Program webpage.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). NRCS has signed an interagency agreement with EPA to fund GLRI conservation work in priority watersheds within Great Lakes states. The purpose of the agreement is to provide funding to NRCS to implement priority programs, projects, and activities to protect, restore and maintain the Great Lakes ecosystem, as identified in the GLRI Action Plan.

Farm Bill Booklet The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts in partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and Michigan Farm Bureau, developed a 2008 Farm Bill resource booklet to provide landowners with understanding of 2008 Farm Bill's conservation programs. This booklet provides overviews of the program opportunities available under the 2008 Farm Bill.  Click here: 2008 Farm Bill Booklet