USDA Farm Bill Conservation Programs Overview

The State of the Birds 2017 report, released by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI), documents the many benefits the Farm Bill—America’s single largest source of conservation funding for private lands—has delivered to birds, farmers, and rural communities. For more than three decades, the Farm Bill has been an effective tool for wildlife conservation, sustaining essential habitat for more than 100 species. For farmers, ranchers, and forest owners, the bill provides a safety net that helps keep working lands from being developed. As the 2018 Farm Bill is debated for reauthorization in Congress, the report calls attention to the benefits of investing in conservation on private lands, which make up nearly 70 percent of the land area in the contiguous United States.

State of the Birds is a regular report published by NABCI’s US Committee, a coalition of 28 state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and bird-focused partnerships. Scientists, government agencies, and bird conservation groups use the State of the Birds as a resource in decision-making about conservation research, policies, and programs.  Last year, NABCI’s State of North America’s Birds Report found that more than one-third of North America’s bird species require urgent conservation action.

The following are links to summaries of 2014 Farm Bill Programs for conservation. These are just some of the available Farm Bill funding sources relevant to IWJV partners.

Working Lands

The following working lands programs provide cost-sharing and financial assistance options for landowners to improve habitat, reduce erosion and runoff, and address other resource concerns on their lands that are in active crop production, grazing, and forestry. Targeted at increasing the sustainability of working lands, these programs can help landowners improve their bottom line while also increasing the conservation benefits on their property.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)


A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement that restricts development and uses of a landowner’s property in order to protect certain functions and resource values. Voluntary easements are important for preserving agricultural landscapes, helping producers keep their working lands working, and for protecting vulnerable wetland habitats.

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)

Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)


The 2014 Farm Bill recognizes the potential of partnerships to drive successful private land conservation efforts. The 2014 Farm Bill’s partnership programs leverage federal Farm Bill dollars with funding from a broad range of partners to maximize the effectiveness of conservation efforts.

Special Initiatives

  • Through a new paradigm of “Conservation Beyond Boundaries,” NRCS now implements special initiatives at large scales and across jurisdictional boundaries. Read more about these initiatives.

Farm Bill Updates By State

2014 Farm Bill Field Guide to Fish and Wildlife Conservation

The IWJV and a team of partners representing the North American Bird Conservation Initiative's Private and Working Lands Subcommittee released the 2014 Farm Bill Field Guide to Fish and Wildlife Conservation. This field guide is a tool to assist the staff of federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, nongovernmental conservation organizations, joint ventures, and other conservation partners in implementing Farm Bill conservation programs. It is primarily designed for those who work collaboratively with private landowners and agricultural producers to improve soil health, water quality, as well as fish and wildlife habitat. Click here for more information.