Thousands of ranchers and farmers in every state are set to receive payments from the USDA, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Friday. The funds, allocated under the 2002 and2008 Farm Bills, are designed to promote the health and sustainability of the natural resources of their lands.
Totaling $500 million, the funds are pulled from two discreteentities: the Conservation Stewardship and the Conservation Security Program. The former has $320 million in its coffers, while the latter has $180 million. Most farmers and ranchers are scheduled to receive the money by December of this year.
A voluntary program that encourages proper resource upkeep and sustainability, the Conservation Stewardship Program has succeeded in recruiting farmers to join, with more than 25 million acres enrolled in the governmental program that effectively ties environmental performance with governmental compensation. Qualified lands for the grants included cropland, pastureland, rangeland and non-industrial forestland.
Secretary Vilsack spoke enthusiastically of the program and its positive effects on the environment and farming output. Vilsack asserted that by "taking steps to enhance the quality of their land, farmers and ranchers are helping to preserve their land and their way of life for generations to come."