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New bill aims to accelerate adoption of regenerative agriculture practices

The Streamlining Conservation Practice Standards Act (H.R.6877) was introduced to expedite the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices by reducing bureaucracy, updating unclear conservation standards, and promoting transparency and public engagement.

Cindy Hazen

January 4, 2024

2 Min Read
farmers

At a Glance

  • Current conservation practice standards are unclear and slow to approve, hindering farmers’ ability to improve conditions.
  • The bill aims to reduce bureaucracy by updating standards, encouraging public engagement and requiring more frequent reviews.
  • The goal is to empower farmers by making voluntary NRCS practices more accessible and adaptable.

A bipartisan bill, introduced to the House of Representatives on Dec. 19, 2023, aims to help farmers pursue regenerative agriculture practices. If passed, the Streamlining Conservation Practice Standards Act (H.R.6877) will update conservation practice standards so that farmers can more quickly adopt new conservation practices.

The current standards are overseen by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) at USDA. The standards are described as unclear. The process for approval of new practices is slow. Yet, updating conservation practices is essential for improving soil health and building resilience to climate change.

The new bill intends to reduce bureaucracy and bring together NRCS best practices and emerging research. Public engagement with state technical committees will be encouraged to consider interim conservation practice standards already in effect in other states. More frequent review of existing standards and establishment of new standards will be required of USDA, along with greater transparency by involving public input. The end goal is to enable farmers to quickly harness voluntary NRCS practices.

“I’ve heard from farmers and producers across our Commonwealth who utilize voluntary conservation practices to improve their yields and boost their bottom lines,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger, co-sponsor of the bill, said in the Dec. 19 press release. “Farmers are constantly innovating to find new best practices to further their conservation goals—but bureaucracy is delaying the approval of these practices that farmers and producers could use to their advantage. By cutting unnecessary red tape and making the process more transparent, our bipartisan bill would help make sure that farmers are able to benefit from the most up-to-date, efficient practice standards.”

Rep. Zachary Nunn, the other co-sponsor of the bill, added that “no one understands the land better than farmers.”

Earlier this year, Republican Sen. Joni Ernst introduced the companion bill, S.2603. Multiple organizations support both bills, including nonprofit Kiss the Ground and Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, an 80+ member coalition which includes the American Farm Bureau Federation, Farm Credit Council, American Sugar Alliance, American Soybean Association (ASA), Minnesota Farm Bureau, California Farm Bureau Federation and Ducks Unlimited.

About the Author(s)

Cindy Hazen

Contributing editor

Cindy Hazen has more than 25 years of experience developing seasonings, dry blends, beverages and more. Today, when not writing or consulting, she expands her knowledge of food safety as a food safety officer for a Memphis-based produce distributor.

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