2014 Farm Bill Field Guide to Fish and Wildlife Conservation

The 2014 Farm Bill Field Guide to Fish and Wildlife Conservation was prepared as an introduction for fish and wildlife conservation providers – the on-the-ground biologists and conservation partners who help deliver Farm Bill conservation programs to landowners. The goal is to give them a tool to better understand the Farm Bill and how its programs can help landowners conserve fish and wildlife habitat.

More than two-thirds of the land area in the United States is privately owned, with 914 million acres in farms or ranches and approximately 300 million acres in private forest. These working lands, which represent much of the country’s remaining open space and habitat, are vitally important to the conservation of soil, water, and fish and wildlife resources.

For decades, the voluntary conservation efforts of farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and other private landowners have been supported by a series of federal laws collectively known as the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is the most important tool enacted by Congress for conserving habitat on private lands. Farm Bill conservation programs fund easements to protect agricultural lands, efforts to protect at-risk species on working lands, technical advisors to help landowners improve their operations while conserving natural resources, and much more.

While individual programs and overall funding levels have changed, Congress continues to show support for conservation on private lands. The Agricultural Act of 2014, the most recently enacted Farm Bill, dedicates about $28 billion dollars until 2018 for conservation in four main areas: working lands programs, the Conservation Reserve Program, conservation easements, and partnerships.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers Farm Bill programs, primarily through the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. These agencies work closely with partners including conservation districts, state fish and wildlife agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, agriculture organizations, and conservation groups. The most important partners are the agricultural producers and other private landowners who participate in Farm Bill conservation programs.

Author, Source 
North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee