STAR was an idea conceived by two farmers in Illinois and further developed through by the Champaign County SWCD and other local partners in 2017 to help farmers meet the conservation practice implementation goals in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. Designed as a simple, straightforward, and easy to use tool, the STAR concept grew to include an implementation framework and was soon adapted and expanded into other Midwestern and Western states to meet their local needs. STAR’s simplified approach prioritizes support for producers by channeling more of the available market funding into financial incentives and technical support necessary for practice change adoption while providing producers, investors and supply chain partners a clear roadmap for increasing conservation outcomes and evaluating progress.

As a national organization STAR establishes a consistent and standardized scale across all regions and production systems, provides state level Affiliates with a comprehensive toolkit and tailored guidance to empower producer success, and facilitates producer connections to technical and financial resources.

Star Believes

Star Believes


STAR was specifically designed to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers and the demands for conservation improvements coming from partners and stakeholders in a clear and cost-effective way. Designed and led by producers, the STAR tool utilizes science and experience to target local solutions for local natural resource concerns, and to support farmers and ranchers on their conservation journey – wherever they are. By creating a standardized approach for evaluating conservation progress across regions and production systems, STAR creates a clear roadmap for conservation adoption that bridges the gap between producers’ perceptions of sustainability and outcomes-based supply chain sustainability opportunities.


STAR is growing and has the potential to reach a majority of production acres in the US. STAR is appealing to Affiliates for its flexibility and adaptability. STAR has expanded from one soil and water conservation district into six states and has received funding to provide STAR as an opportunity in additional states in the West and Midwest across a variety of production systems.