click here for pdf version

Farm Bill Programs that Support Increasing Pollinator Habitat

Approximately 75% of the world’s flowering plants, including two-thirds of all crops, must be pollinated in order to reproduce.  Bees are the primary providers of pollination services, and although honey bees are the most well known and widely managed pollinators, other bees, including bumble bees and solitary bees, are also very significant.  Unfortunately, according to a recent report by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, all pollinators are in decline as a result of habitat loss, deterioration, and fragmentation, in addition to the adverse effects of pesticides.   Previous newsletter articles discussed the value of native bees on the farm and how their populations can be increased.

Congress has recognized the importance of pollinators, and the 2008 Farm Bill supports several programs which provide funding for growers, particularly specialty crop producers, who implement conservation plans and consequently increase bee habitat.  Many of these programs are shown below.  Eligibility for each program varies; additional information about individual programs and application procedures is available on the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service website (

Farm Bill conservation programs that can be used to increase pollinator habitat on farm land
(reproduced from USDA-NRCS Technical Note No. 78)
Program Purpose Land eligibility
Type of assistance
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) State Acres for wildlife Enhancement (SAFE)

Click here for more information.
Land retirement program encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland or other environmentally sensitive acreage to vegetative cover such as tame or native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filter strips, or riparian buffers.  Addresses issues raised by state, regional, and national conservation initiatives. Highly erodible land, wetland, stream side areas in pasture land, certain other lands.  Eligible wetlands must have been cropped 3 of 10 previous years, highly erodible cropland 4 of 6 previous years.  Pollinators are high priority species under the CRP conservation practice called State Acres for wildlife Enhancement (SAFE).  (Click here for more information on SAFE.) 50% cost-share for establishing permanent cover and conservation practices, and annual rental payments for land enrolled in 10- to 15-year contracts.  Additional financial incentives are available for some practices.  CRP is administered by FSA; NRCS provides technical land eligibility determinations, conservation planning, and practice implementation.  Contact NRCS or FSA state or local office.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) (formerly Conservation Security Program)

Click here for more information.
Addresses resource concerns comprehensively by 1) undertaking additional conservation activities; and 2) improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.  The CSP encourages farmers to broadly improve their conservation effort to protect water and air quality, improve soil quality, add wildlife habitat, conserve water, and save energy. Private and tribal agricultural land, and forested land incidental to agriculture.  Land converted to cropland since 2008 is not eligible. Annual payments based on expenses, foregone income, and environmental benefits; 5-year contracts renewable for another 5 years. Contact NRCS state or local office.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Click here for more information.
Promotes agricultural production and environmental quality by helping eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices. Land on which agricultural commodities, livestock, or forest-related products are produced. Up to 75% cost-share for installed conservation practices or 100% of foregone income; contracts run 1 year past last practice installation, up to 10 years.  Up to 3 years of incentive payments for certain management practices.  Special payment consideration for practices that promote pollinator habitat.  Contact NRCS state or local office.
Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)

Click here for more information.
Helps owners and operators protect grazing uses and related conservation values by restoring and conserving eligible land through rental contracts, easements, and restoration agreements. Historical grassland used primarily for grazing that has high conservation, ecological, or archeological value. 50% cost-share for restoration; annual payment up to 75% of the grazing value of the land for 10-, 15-, or 20-year rental contracts, or easement payments no greater than fair market value less the encumbered grazing value for permanent easements or easements for the maximum duration allowed under state law.  GRP is jointly administered by NRCS, FSA, and U.S. Forest Service. Contact NRCS or FSA state or local office.
Wetland Reserve Program (WRP)

Click here for more information.
Land retirement program to restore, protect, or enhance wetlands on private or tribal lands. Farmed wetland or wetland converted to agriculture before 1985, together with functionally dependent adjacent land, or cropland or grassland that was used for agricultural production prior to natural flooding. Private lands: 1) permanent easement payment equal to forgone value plus 100% of restoration costs; or 2) 30-year easement payment (75% of forgone value) plus 75% of restoration costs; or 3) restoration cost-share agreement (usually 10 years) with payment of 75% of restoration costs. Tribal lands:  restored through any combination of 2 and 3. Contact NRCS state or local office.
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)

Click here for more information.
Develop wildlife habitat on private and tribal lands. High-priority fish and wildlife habitats, especially habitat for declining species, otherwise unfunded beneficial practices, or locally determined fish and wildlife priority habitats.  

-Cory Vorel, USU CAPS Coordinator


National Resource Council of the National Academies.  2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

USDA-NRCS, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and San Francisco State University.  2008. Technical Note No. 78: Using Farm Bill Programs for Pollinator Conservation.

Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, 2008 Farm Bill: Benefits to Crop Pollinators.