After 100 days of patiently waiting, the much anticipated 30x30 proposal (also known as Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful) was released on May 6 and provided some clarity regarding the administration’s plan to conserve 30 percent of our land and water resources by the year 2030. 

The 30x30 plan is intended to be incentive-based, voluntary, and work toward conservation of lands – not preservation or protection. The plan will follow eight basic principles: a collaborative approach to conservation, equal access to resources, locally led conservation efforts, honoring tribal priorities, creating jobs through conservation approaches, honoring private property rights and voluntary stewardship efforts, using science as a guide, and building on existing conservation tools with flexible approaches. 

So, what counts as conservation? The proposal suggests conservation will take the form of expanding participation in existing conservation programs. A program that was specifically mentioned in this proposal is USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). However, conservation rental rates under that program are as high as $80/acre in some midwestern states but only $11/acre in Arizona. As a result, only one farm in our state has enrolled in CRP, and that trend will likely not change any time soon unless the program is changed to fit the unique needs of our state. While we are excited to see the administration turning to existing programs rather than creating new ones, we must first ensure that these programs work for Arizona.  

Another key concern is that the administration still does not know exactly what percent of lands are in a form of conservation right now. Yet, 30 percent is understood to be the right baseline for achieving a level of conservation that makes a meaningful impact. Fortunately, USDA has indicated that any data collection to determine the percentage of land in conservation under the program is intended to be aggregate, not individualized. Ultimately there is more work to be done to determine what the nature of this analysis will be, and how that analysis will be kept minimal and protective of private information.

We were pleased to see how the report made an intentional effort to show that this plan will respect private property rights and recognizes voluntary conservation. And we are also glad that the administration recognizes the need for more clarity in the details of how it will accomplish this goal and that it wants to achieve that through stakeholder engagement. 
Arizona Farm Bureau will continue to advocate on behalf of Arizona’s farmers and ranchers, who are already participating in voluntary, incentive-based practices and stewards of the land. We understand that this is an evolving plan and will keep you apprised as soon as we learn more. To read the report yourself, click here