Agriculture and the Environment
Farmers have enrolled a total of 31 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program to protect the environment and provide habitat for wildlife. Since its inception in 1985, the program has helped reduce soil erosion by 622 million tons and restored more than 2 million acres of wetlands.
Conservation tillage, a way of farming that reduces erosion (soil loss) on cropland while using less energy, has grown from 17 percent of acreage in 1982 to 63 percent today. At the same time, total land used for crops declined by 15 percent (70 million acres).
Careful stewardship by farmers has spurred a nearly 50 percent decline in erosion of cropland by wind and water since 1982.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of trees are planted on farmland.
Farmers, ranchers and other landowners have installed more than 2 million miles of conservation buffers under farm bill initiatives. Buffers improve soil, air and water quality; enhance wildlife habitat; and create scenic landscapes.
More than half of America’s farmers intentionally provide habitat for wildlife. Deer, moose, fowl and other species have shown significant population increases for decades.
For contour farming, farmers plant crops across the slope of the land to conserve water and protect soil.
Crop rotation, the practice of growing different crops in succession on the same land, is another way farmers take care of the land.
Through the farm bill, funding is provided to farmers and ranchers for conservation, for programs that prevent soil erosion, preserve and restore wetlands, clean the air and water, and enhance wildlife.
Alternative energy sources, including wind power and renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel (made from corn, soybeans and other crops) are beneficial to the environment and promote energy security.