Nineteen organizations, including The Wildlife Society, signed a letter to Congress in support of a native plants standard in the 2018 Farm Bill. The letter proposes that the USDA adopt a national policy that would establish a preference for native plants whenever feasible in private conservation and working lands programs. Federal agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and National Park Service have already adopted similar policies. The letter recommends the policy be a voluntary and non-regulatory component of programs in order to allow for flexibility in implementation.
As stated in the letter, many upland birds and other wildlife species that rely on native grassland habitat could see benefits from this policy. A number of eastern grassland birds have been experiencing long-term declines including the loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), the eastern kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus), and the Dikcissel (Spiza americana). These declines have been primarily due to the diminished quantity and quality of grassland habitats. Between 2008-2012, over 1 million acres of long-term grassland were lost to cropland conversion. A native plants first standard could help to reverse this trend.