Conservation Investments on California Farms and Ranchland Reach $250 Million in 2012

Private landowners in California and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) invested approximately a quarter billion dollars in 2012 to protect, conserve and restore natural resources, the NRCS highlighted in a recent press release.

One of the largest partnerships of 2012 involved NRCS and California’s dairy industry. The partnership invested $30 million in waste management plans and structural practices designed to help dairymen continue efforts to comply with California’s state water quality regulations.

The NRCS also partnered for a second year with the Bureau of Reclamation to conserve irrigation water by matching improvements in water delivery infrastructure and water management on farms. The projects are saving 17,646 acre feet of water per year at delivery points and bringing an estimated 25% increased water efficiencies on farms.

“Despite the difficult economic times, California’s farmers, ranchers, non-industrial private forest owners, and conservation partners prioritized conservation in their 2012 operating plans. This commitment made it possible to successfully add more than 7,000 conservation practices across California landscape and enhance the environment that we all share,” Jeff Burwell, acting state conservationist for NRCS, said in a press release.

The federal portion of the conservation investments - $154.2 million – comes from a mix of financial incentive and easement programs funded through conservation programs of the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill programs require a match by the landowner that is typically about half the cost of applying the conservation practice. Two of the conservation programs, the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) and the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) depend on partners to partially plan and administer the programs.