The Soil and Resources Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 2001 - 2009) was enacted in 1977, in recognition of the growing demand on soil, water and related resources of the Nation to meet present and future needs. Out of concern for the sustained use of these resources, the Act provides for the collection and periodic analysis of resource data and appraisals of the status, condition and trends. (Various resource data collection and information systems have been developed as a result of the Act, including the GIS.) The Act also requires that a National Conservation Program be developed that includes recommendations to Congress covering significant areas of concern for the protection of our resources. Some of these areas include assessments of food & fiber demands in the world, farmland protection, crop protection systems, land retirement, as well as forestry protection on private lands.
The first data collection and analysis performed under this Act was released in 1982, in the form of a National Conservation Program Report and Environmental Impact Statement.
The 1982 National Conservation Program Report and resulting analysis can be said to have brought conservation into the consideration of farmland laws and programs. As a result of the 1982 Report and its recommendations, the 1985 Farm Bill established the original Conservation Reserve and Wetland Reserve Programs, as well as the initial Farmland Protection Program.
The next data collection and analysis release occurred in January 1989, the recommendations and implications of which covered a 1988 - 1997 time period. The impact of this Report, its analyses and recommendations, is reflected in the 1996 Farm Bill and the numerous programs it established or expanded. These include the environmental & preservation programs listed in the index and included in this Compilation of Laws.
The Department of Agriculture has recently concluded its 1997 resource inventory. The next release is scheduled for September, 2001, and intended to correspond with the 2002 Farm Bill deliberations.
(Always refer to the most current version of the law, either by checking the compiled laws, or referring to the U.S.Code Service site above.)