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Conservation Opportunities in the Farm Bill

Opportunities in the Farm Bill for American Indian Tribes include:

  • Introduction of a new term “socially disadvantaged producers”. Socially disadvantaged producers include producers who are Asian, Black, Native American or Hispanic. Socially disadvantaged producers are eligible for additional cost share up or 90% or an increase of 25% available to everyone else.
  • Both the Wetland Reserve Program and the Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP) now offer 30-year contracts just for tribes as an alternative to 30-year easements since many trust properties are prohibited from easements. The 30-year contracts will have the same comparable value as the 30-year easement. This should allow increased Tribal participation in these two programs.
  • There is a Conservation Access provision in the Farm Bill that requires that 5% of Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) funds be set aside for tribal lands. This will not affect Montana since we have traditionally set aside 10% of all program funds for tribal participants.
  • Both Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers will be allowed to receive a 30% payment advance prior to beginning a practice to purchase materials.
  • The Conservation Cooperative Partnership Initiative (CCPI) allows for 6% of EQIP, 6% of WHIP and 6% of CSP acres to be set aside for tribal projects.