Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a new conservation initiative to protect up to 750,000 acres of the nation’s most highly erodible croplands. Vilsack made the announcement via video to attendees of the National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic, held Feb. 17-19 in Kansas City, Mo. The new initiative will assist producers with targeting their most highly erodible cropland (land with an erodibility index of 20 or greater) by enabling them to plant wildlife-friendly, long-term cover through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
Producers can enroll land on a continuous basis beginning this summer at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office. With the use of soil survey and geographic information system data, local FSA staff can quickly determine a producer’s eligibility for the initiative.
“As we work towards President Obama’s vision for an economy that is built to last, America’s natural resources must play an important role. Lands in CRP help support strong incomes for our farmers and ranchers and are the source of good middle class jobs related to outdoor recreation, hunting, and fishing,” said Vilsack. “This announcement will strengthen CRP by focusing on protecting the most environmentally sensitive land. It targets limited resources where they can make the most difference for farmers, ranchers and to drive economic growth. I urge landowners who have highly erodible land to visit their county office to learn more about this program.”
Lands eligible for this program are typically the least productive land on the farm. In many cases the most cost-effective option to reduce erosion is to put the land into a wildlife friendly cover, which will improve habitat and reduce sediment and nutrient runoff and reduce wind erosion. For 25 years, CRP has improved water and air quality, preserved habitat for wildlife, and prevented soil erosion. Programs such as CRP are important conservation safeguards. They prevent the return of the dust storms of the 1930s and the ravages of unmitigated gully erosions of our past.
Source: USDA FSA