The Conservation Stewardship Program received $10 million to provide subsidies for farmers, ranchers, and forestland managers. And according to a USDA press release, it will fund those working on or starting new conservation projects. The funding will also focus on areas including enhancing soil health, changing weather patterns, and irrigation. The fund’s announcement comes at an especially crucial time as Covid-19 brings more financial hardships to farmers.
Covid-19 challenging farmers in a big way
Agricultural producers received $9.5 billion from the CARES Act. Additionally, the USDA received $14 billion to help farmers impacted by the pandemic. The pandemic’s impacts were significant. Farmers had to dump just one million pounds of crops due to restaurant closures.
As some farms saw their revenue plummet, they have resorted to simply killing their livestock, knowing that keeping it alive would cost even more money.
To make matters worse, an estimated 25% of farmers in California were already in poverty before the pandemic hit. Now, an online survey reveals that 57% of farmers have either lost customers or seen a sales drop.
The Conservation Stewardship Program will help future generations of farmers
With these challenges in mind, the Conservation Stewardship Program comes at an opportune time. Soil health was already in decline, but climate change exacerbated the problem. This is especially important in California, which is home to one of the most diverse agricultural industries in the United States.
Avocados, almonds, grapes, oranges, walnuts, and the wine industry are at stake. And noting that California has already lost one million acres of usable agricultural land, the time for land conservation is here and now.
While the Conservation Stewardship Program isn’t designed to be Covid-19 relief, it sure does come at a great time. After all, what better way to encourage conservation than to support farmers, ranchers, and forestland managers with fiscal support when they truly need it?
Lauren Beauban is an Editorial Fellow at theRising, where she covers sustainability news and influential people in the industry. She is also interested in environmental policy and how it affects people. You can pitch her stories at firstname.lastname@example.org