7.3.5 Agricultural Land Conservation

LPDD Recommendation: “Congress should prioritize funding for conservation programs that offer the greatest climate benefits while reduc­ing or eliminating funding that benefits environmentally harmful operations.”

LPDD Recommendation: “Congress should substantially expand ACEP and ensure that protecting environmentally sensitive lands that provide the greatest climate benefits is among the program’s priorities. Congress should eliminate the ACEP’s long-term easement option. Congress should expand ACEP to allow for easements on additional types of environmentally sensitive land, allowing USDA to protect terrestrial carbon pools in a wider variety of ecosystems.”

LPDD Recommendation: “Congress should expand funding for the CRP, while also reforming the CRP to provide sustained climate ben­efits by offering farmers 30-year agreements or permanent easements, targeting lands with the most significant climate-change mitigation and adaptation potential.”

LPDD Recommendation: “Congress should expand funding for the CSP to prioritize climate-beneficial activities like cover crops and resource-conserving crop rotations and ensure that they receive a higher, supplemental payment.”

LPDD Recommendation: “Congress should expand the required practices for conservation compliance to include those that protect soil carbon and water.”

LPDD Recommendation: “Congress should increase funding for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, which gives farmers higher payments for participating in targeted conservation efforts organized by state and local officials.”

LPDD Recommendation: “Congress should lower the EQIP payment cap for all animal feeding operations, or at a minimum, create a lower cap for such operations. Congress should modify EQIP by requiring greater representation of sustainable farming approaches on work­ing groups and allocating more funds—or a larger cost-share percentage—to practices demonstrated to have the greatest benefits. Congress should redirect EQIP funds, to the extent possible, to support farms and ranches working to signifi­cantly reduce emissions or sequester carbon.”

LPDD Recommendation: “Congress should reform the RFS to support only those biofuels with significant climate benefits.”

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

Pays farm owners the lowest of the fair market value of the land or an offer made by the farm owner. Alternatively, farm owners can apply for “long-term” wetland easements, which typically run for 30 years.

National Conservation Easement Database

The NCED contains records for more than 130,000 conservation easements encumbering more than 24 million acres of land.