Agriculture and the Farm Bill

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Eighty percent of threatened and endangered species rely on privately owned land for their habitat needs. The majority of U.S. private land is managed by farmers, ranchers and forest landowners, and the actions taken on those lands have a big impact on the health of ecosystems. This makes federal agricultural policy an extremely important part of our work to protect wildlife.

Every 5 years or so, the U.S. Congress passes a ‘Farm Bill’ - almost $1 trillion in taxpayer support for farm subsidies, conservation investments and assistance for the hungriest Americans. Currently, $5 billion to $6 billion of this funding annually goes specifically to programs that help farmers protect wildlife habitat, safeguard streams and wetlands, and reduce the environmental impact of farming. 

This represents the single largest federal investment in conservation on private lands. With staff expertise in policy, science and economics, Defenders is winning changes in federal programs that encourage landowners to protect and restore wildlife.  We are also fighting against proposals that would make insurance subsidies that destroy more habitat, and to maintain 30 years of conservation accountability that have long been part of our farm subsidy system. 

On dotWild

Read the latest news on the Farm Bill and other areas of agricultural policy with analysis from our experts on implications for wildlife.

Farm Bill posts

Agriculture posts

Defenders in Action: The 2012 Farm Bill

Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill every five years. The current Farm Bill is set to expire on September 30, 2013. As Congress works on the 2013 Farm Bill, Defenders is working to:

  • Maintain funding for conservation programs that provide billions of dollars each year to farmers restoring and conserving habitat.
  • Preserve the most successful farm conservation program which has a 30-year history of protecting prairies, wetlands and soil by requiring farmers to adopt a conservation plan in exchange for taxpayer subsidies.
  • Introduce new ways to provide farmers with payments for their performance on creating positive environmental benefits. 

For more details on how the 2012 Farm Bill could impact wildlife and habitat, check out our latest fact sheets and publications:

Fact sheets:

Mutually Insured Destruction: How Unchecked Crop Insurance Subsidies Harm the Environment

What’s Crop Insurance Got to do with Conservation?

The Farm Bill and Wildlife: Grassland Conversions Threaten the Lesser Prairie Chicken

Expanding Crisis in the Prairie Pothole Region

Losing Sage Grouse through Farm Subsidies

Crop Insurance and Wildlife: Swift Fox at Risk

Other publications:

Conservation Community's Principles and Recommendations for Strengthening the Farm Bill Conservation Title

November 13th Letter to President Obama

Plowed Under: How Crop Subsidies Contribute to Massive Habitat Losses

Defenders in Action: Partnerships for Farming and Wildlife in California

Our staff in California are working with partners to ensure the viability of California’s farms and ranches while also protecting wildlife habitat. Read more about these partnerships here.

Agriculture and Farm Bill Team

Robert Dewey
Vice President, Government Relations & External Affairs

Noah Matson 
Vice President, Landscape Conservation and Climate Adaptation

Aimee Delach
Senior Policy Analyst Climate Adaptation

KC Stover
Coordinator, Landscape Conservation and Climate Adaptation

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