We surveyed farmers: conservation is important

Many farmers and ranchers value the opportunity the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers to enhance their existing conservation efforts, according to a survey we completed last year. Eighty-seven percent of respondents, all living in an area with a strong agricultural presence, stated CSP should be supported as a priority in the farm bill.

We recently released, “A farmer’s view: a look at the Conservation Stewardship Program,” which analyzes these survey results and examines the efficacy of CSP in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The questionnaire was distributed to 4,799 farmers, and 829 responses were received.

CSP is the largest federal conservation program by acreage that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service administers. The program differs from other working lands programs in that it rewards farmers and ranchers for performing conservation and also provides a path for them to increase levels of conservation for their entire operation.

Survey respondents reported positive changes to soil health, water quality, and other natural resources, which indicate the program is working as it should. Conservation enhancements chosen by farmers and ranchers are meant to address priority resource concerns that are not confined to a single farm or ranch, but rather impact the surrounding region. With enhancements that reduce erosion and prevent water runoff, CSP helps protect our most valued, and shared, resources.

With CSP, farmers and ranchers can access greater levels of  conservation, see advantages of those practices, and value the education and financial support to help achieve these conservation benefits. This demonstrates the reassuring conclusion that CSP is working as it should.

To view the report, visit cfra.org/publications/AFarmersViewOfCSP.