(ALBUQUERQUE, NM) States that embrace innovative new ways to finance on-farm conservation can deliver multiple benefits to farmers, state residents, taxpayers and the environment, according to a new report released today at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Annual Meeting by NASDA and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
The report, Innovative state-led efforts to finance agricultural conservation [PDF], highlights state-level programs that use nontraditional financing mechanisms, including crop insurance discounts and transferable tax credits, to incentivize conservation adoption.
“The solutions in this report help state and private dollars go further toward increasing the number of acres of farmland under conservation management across the country,” NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said. “These efforts ensure that valuable resources remain productive well into the future. We hope that states will exchange ideas with each other about best practices and effective program design for scaling conservation efforts.”
“Existing federal and state conservation programs are essential but provide insufficient funding to meet today’s environmental challenges. In response, states are finding creative ways to incentivize practices that protect drinking water and soil health, and improve the resilience of the agricultural economy,” said Mark Rupp, director for state-federal policy and affairs, Ecosystems at EDF.
The efforts highlighted in the report offer multiple demonstrated benefits. Farmers benefit from support in adopting conservation practices, which is particularly important in a depressed farm economy. State residents benefit from improved water quality, reduced agricultural water consumption, increased wildlife habitat and a more resilient food system. Taxpayers benefit from programs that are tailored to states’ specific needs to make more cost-effective use of public dollars. The entire country benefits from the incubation of ideas that can be implemented in other states or at the federal level.
The report, which is based on a review of more than 90 state-level agricultural conservation programs, highlights the following:
- Arizona’s Best Management Practices Program.
- California’s Healthy Soils Program.
- Colorado’s Conservation Tax Credit Program.
- Delaware’s Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution Program.
- Georgia’s Conservation Tax Credit Program.
- Iowa’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program and Cover Crop-Crop Insurance Demonstration Project.
- Michigan’s Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.
- Minnesota’s Agricultural Best Management Practices Loan Program.
- Nebraska’s Buffer Strip Program.
- Pennsylvania’s Resource Enhancement and Protection Program.
- South Carolina’s Land Conservation and Environmental Credits Program.
- South Dakota’s Conservation Revolving Loan and Conservation Tillage Loan Programs.
- Virginia’s Land Preservation Tax Credit Program.
- Wyoming’s Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund Program.
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