WASHINGTON (Sept. 17) –– It has been nine months since Congress passed the 2018 farm bill, which authorized 60 million for conservation programs. Since the bill’s passage, little has been done to ensure that conservation programs are being effectively implemented or are generating a worthwhile investment for taxpayers.

In a new policy paper, R Street Institute Director of Federal Government Affairs, Caroline Kitchens provides an overview of conservation programs and examines the current state of their implementation through a free-market and limited-government lens. 

Through the farm bill, taxpayers spend billions on programs designed to protect public goods like healthy air and soil. However, evidence shows that these programs lack accountability and are not being implemented effectively. Stronger enforcement mechanisms and better oversight are needed to ensure that the intended result is achieved.

Kitchens argues that a commitment to conservation is compatible with conservative ideology, but market forces must be harnessed effectively and oversight must be enhanced to ensure that taxpayers are getting a good return on investment.

She adds, “Through the farm bill, taxpayers spend billions on programs designed to protect vital public goods like natural wetlands and healthy air and soil. However, without better information and effective oversight mechanisms, we cannot be sure these expenditures provide valuable returns to the public.”