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Cara J

USDA begins implementing Farm Bill

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Implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, passed in December, is now underway. The $867 billion package funds many programs, from producer subsidies to food stamps, including $5 billion for conservation incentives on private lands. Key Farm Bill conservation programs include the Conservation Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The new bill increased the enrollment cap for CRP, and EQIP will now dedicate 10 percent of funds distributed though the program to wildlife conservation, providing about $200 million a year. Last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue testified in front of both the House and Senate agriculture committees. During the Senate hearing, staffing vacancies currently faced by the USDA that may slow Farm Bill implementation were brought up by lawmakers. Perdue agreed with lawmaker concerns, noting that federal government hiring is not done quickly. Despite these challenges, Perdue said, the USDA is moving forward with implementing the conservation programs. “The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) utilized mandatory program funding to keep staff working throughout the recent shutdown,” he said in written testimony, “providing significant time to begin building the framework for the new and revised conservation programs they are responsible for implementing.” During the House hearing, Perdue also discussed the challenges surrounding [...]

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