DES MOINES, August 27, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Iowa Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, John R. Whitaker, today announced that an additional 75,000 acres of agricultural land in Iowa is eligible for funding for wildlife habitat restoration though the Gaining Ground component of the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program.

Iowa Farm Service Agency Accepting More Acres for Wildlife Habitat Restoration

Contacts:
John R Whitaker
John.whitaker@@ia.usda.gov
PH (515)254-1540
Curt Goettsch
Curt.goettsch@ia.usda.gov
PH (515)331-8440

DES MOINES, August 27, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Iowa Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, John R. Whitaker, today announced that an additional 75,000 acres of agricultural land in Iowa is eligible for funding for wildlife habitat restoration though the Gaining Ground component of the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program.

“Since the Iowa Gaining Ground initiative was first established in 2008, farmers and ranchers have enrolled 42,150 acres, resulting in the enhancement of native plant communities in buffers around and near existing remnants of native prairie,” said Whitaker. “We hope to continue this progress by offering interested farmers and ranchers the opportunity to enroll another 75,000 acres in this project.”

In Iowa, more than 117,000 acres enrolled through the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program are specifically designed to increase targeted wildlife species including ring-necked pheasant, dickcissel, grasshopper sparrow, field sparrow, and several others.

SAFE is part of the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federally-funded, voluntary program that, for 30 years, has assisted agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In return, USDA provides program participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance for establishing conservation practices.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program, which has not only resulted in significant soil and water improvements, but also increased populations of waterfowl, upland game and other wildlife native to Iowa’s rural countryside,” said Whitaker. “Additional SAFE Gaining Ground acres will further perpetuate these conservation successes.”

Through a variety of initiatives including SAFE,

the Conservation Reserve Program has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road.

Producers can offer land for enrollment in SAFE and other CRP initiatives by contacting their local FSA county office at http://offices.usda.gov. To learn more the 30th anniversary of CRP and to review 30 success stories throughout the year, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/CRPis30 or follow Twitter at #CRPis30. And for more information about FSA conservation programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation.

The Conservation Reserve Program was reauthorized by 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made producers; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

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