FSA is dedicated to achieving an economically and environmentally sound future for American agriculture. In the 1930s, Congress set up a unique system under which federal farm programs are administered locally. Farmers eligible to participate elect a three- to five-person county committee, which reviews county office operations and makes decisions on how to apply the programs. This grassroots approach gives farmers a say in how federal actions affect their communities and their individual operations. After more than 60 years, it remains a cornerstone of FSA's efforts to preserve and promote American agriculture. FSA administers three conservation programs authorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, also known as the 2002 Farm Bill.
- Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners. Through CRP, producers can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. CRP is administered by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) through FSA. Program support is provided by NRCS, Cooperative Extension Service, state forestry agencies, and local conservation districts.
- Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). FSA and the state of Arkansas launched a $10 million CREP program to improve water quality of the Bayou Meto watershed and wildlife habitat in five central Arkansas counties in 2001. Producers enrolled in CREP remove lands from agricultural production and plant native grasses, trees, and other vegetation to improve water quality, soil and wildlife habitat under voluntary 10-15 year contracts. The Arkansas CREP will target 4,700 acres to establish tree buffers around streams and rivers in the Bayou Meto watershed.
- Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.