Man giving farm tour


The Center for Rural Affairs believes that conservation is vital to the future of our rural communities and family farms. In addition to conserving valuable natural resources, such as water and soil, conservation practices implemented by producers offer risk management and economic benefits, particularly in the face of a changing climate.

Working lands programs

The Center advocates at the federal level for two of our country’s most important working lands programs—the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). These programs, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), provide financial and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to address natural resource concerns on their operations while maintaining agricultural production. 

To learn more about these programs, download our fact sheets. You can also contact your local NRCS office using this online tool.


Conservation programs improve soil health, which in turn, can help our agricultural sector address our changing climate. Studies show that practices such as cover crops, rotational grazing, and crop rotation help the soil store carbon, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Center advocates for common sense legislation and programs that involve rural people, especially farmers, in the development and considers previous climate-smart practice implementation projects as well as private initiatives. 

Carbon payment programs, commonly known as carbon markets, provide an important economic opportunity for farmers and ultimately rural communities. However, existing markets are arbitrarily designed and poorly administered, making it difficult for farmers to navigate. The Growing Climate Solutions Act will provide structure to these markets, which will lead to successful programs and increased voluntary conservation on the ground.

H.R. 2820 ensures transparent, measurable, and objective standards are used in any carbon credit program. That is a win for farmers and landowners, rural communities, and our environment. 

  • Financial incentives increase the likelihood that farmers and forest owners will adopt additional voluntary conservation practices, even during a period of high prices.
  • More money in the pocket of farmers and forest owners translates into more money in rural economies, providing the much-needed stimulation in rural communities. 
  • Supported conservation practices like cover crops and no-till have environmental co-benefits such as improved water quality in local watersheds and  improved soil health. 

The Center is committed to ensuring that programs such as CSP and EQIP work for farmers and ranchers. If you’d like to share your experience with these programs, contact Kalee Olson, policy associate, at (402) 687-2100 ext. 1022 or