The farm bill is an omnibus, multi-year piece of authorizing legislation that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. Titles in the most recent farm bill encompassed farm commodity price and income supports, farm credit, trade, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, bioenergy, foreign food aid, and domestic nutrition assistance. Although agricultural policies sometimes are created and changed by freestanding legislation or as part of other major laws, the farm bill provides a predictable opportunity for policy makers to comprehensively and periodically address agricultural and food issues. The farm bill is renewed about every five years.
The 2014 farm bill identifies $28 Billion in funding over 5 years for conservation programs.
Prior to the 2014 farm bill, the agricultural conservation portfolio included over 20 conservation programs. The bill reduces and consolidates the number of conservation programs, and reduces mandatory funding. It reauthorizes many of the larger existing conservation programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and rolled smaller and similar conservation programs into two new conservation programs—the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Previous conservation easement programs, including programs related to wetlands, grasslands, and farmland protection, were repealed and consolidated to create ACEP. ACEP retains most of the program provisions in the previous easement programs by establishing two types of easements: wetland reserve easements that protect and restore wetlands, and agricultural land easements that prevent non-agricultural uses on productive farm or grasslands. Previous programs focused on agricultural water enhancement, and two programs related to the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes, among other programs, were repealed and consolidated into the new RCPP. RCPP will use partnership agreements with state and local governments, Indian tribes, farmer cooperatives, and other conservation organizations to leverage federal funding and further conservation on a regional or watershed scale