Opportunities to enroll in popular conservation programs

virginiaThe Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that the USDA will offer farmers and ranchers more opportunities to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program, a voluntary program that offers a wide variety of opportunities to reduce erosion, increase wildlife habitat and reduce nutrient runoff. The announcement includes new CRP tools to protect water quality and an additional 1.1 million acres targeted to benefit wildlife, pollinators and wetlands.

A new conservation initiative known as Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers (CLEAR) will add greater benefits, especially in areas where traditional buffers have not been enough to prevent nutrients from reaching bodies of water.

Early estimates are that CLEAR could help to reduce nitrate runoff by as much as 40 percent over traditional conservation methods. CLEAR may provide up to 90 percent of the cost to install new equipment through incentives and cost-share.

There are a number of CRP practices that are important to wildlife and conservation. USDA is making a major investment in these initiatives by adding an additional 1.1 million acres to the current acreage allotment. These include 700,000 acres for State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) efforts, which restore high-priority wildlife habitat tailored to a specific state’s needs. In addition to SAFE, 300,000 acres will be added to target wetlands restoration that are nature’s water filters and 100,000 acres for pollinator habitat.

Signing incentives are being reduced by $25 per acre on certain practices for fiscal year 2018 enrollments (incentives are currently between $100 and $150 per acre) and a cap on the maximum soil rental rate is being instituted for Continuous CRP at $300 per acre. The savings from these changes are being reinvested in the program.

To learn more about FSA’s conservation programs, visit fsa.usda.gov/conservation or contact your local FSA office. To find your local FSA office, visit offices.usda.gov.


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