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For Immediate Release: April 19, 2012

Media Contact:
Jennifer Cole
Montana Farm Service Agency
Public Affairs Specialist/Outreach & Civil Rights Coordinator

FSA announces Montana Pheasant Winter Cover Enhancement SAFE program availability in Sheridan and Daniels County

Bozeman, Mont., April 19, 2012 - Interested agricultural producers and landowners in Daniels & Sheridan counties are now eligible to sign up for a limited number of acres under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) Program aimed at enhancing pheasant winter cover and upland bird habitat, USDA Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting State Executive Director Dick Deschamps announced today.

The Montana Pheasant Winter Cover Enhancement SAFE initiative is a cooperative effort between FSA, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, landowners and Pheasants Forever to voluntarily enroll cropland into CRP to improve habitat for ring-necked pheasants in northeastern Montana.

Montana FSA is now offering interested agricultural producers and landowners the opportunity to enroll up to 1,500 acres in Daniels County and 1,500 acres in Sheridan County. Those interested can contact the Daniels County FSA Office in Scobey and the Sheridan County FSA Office in Plentywood for more information.

"The Montana SAFE Program allows agricultural producers in these counties to install practices through CRP that benefit ring-necked pheasants and other upland birds," Deschamps said. "It's a continuous CRP signup program and acceptable SAFE offers will be approved on a first-come first-serve basis through Daniels and Sheridan County FSA offices."

The goal of the Montana project is to provide blocks of grass and/or shrub cover for ring-necked pheasants and other upland birds near existing permanent winter cover; improve habitat near existing permanent winter cover; expand habitat by converting eligible croplands to grassy cover and improve water quality and reduce soil erosion within project area.

Acres enrolled must be located next to winter cover, have available nest cover within 1.5 miles of winter cover, include an area of at least 10 percent winter cover, have a developed Wildlife Resource Management System and be included in an approved conservation plan. Eligible cropland is cropland that has been planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity during four of the six crop years from 2002 to 2007. A minimum of 40 acres must be offered.

Eligible SAFE participants will receive annual rental payments on a 10 to 15 year contract. For newly enrolled lands, participants may also receive an up-front signing incentive payment equal to $10 per acre multiplied by each full year of the contract up to 10 years, up to 50 percent cost chare, and a practice incentive payment equal to 40 percent of the eligible total cost of practice installation.

For more information, call or visit the Daniels County FSA Office in Scobey at (406) 487-5366 and the Sheridan County FSA Office in Plentywood at (406) 765-1550 or visit the state FSA website at

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
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