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USDA program encourages farmers and ranchers to do good for the environment

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“The Conservation Stewardship Program is one of USDA’s programs that provides incentives for farmers and ranchers to do good things with their lands,” said Brandon Willis, a professor at Utah State University and previous contributor to the 2008 Farm Bill. He explains.

“But if you are willing to do things that are good for the environment, they are going to pay you to do them.”

CSP has a wide variety of programs to support and ensure farmers and ranchers are utilizing updated and sustainable methods.

Anna Johnson is the policy manager for the Center for Rural Affairs and has studied and released a report analyzing the previous spending in the CSP.

“Farmers and ranchers in Utah or who would like to improve conservation on their operations to address the local natural resource concerns, whether that is water quantity, CSP is a program that can help them do that,” said Johnson.

CSP targets primary resources such as wind and water erosion, cover crops, irrigation, energy use, livestock production and many other concerns related to agriculture.

In 2020 the CSP program has treated over 550 thousand acres in Utah alone.

“Yes, they have changed how they are doing things. But the same time when you look at how much we are spending on conservation, compared to how we used too, significantly more and they are just doing things differently," said Willis.

Plans to increase spending for conservation efforts such as CSP is offered in President Biden’s Build Back Better Bill.