(ST PAUL, Minn.) Dec. 21, 2016 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Grant Herfindahl today announced that up to 50,000 acres can be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in Minnesota for critical wildlife in addition to the 2,137 acres of CRP Grasslands announced earlier in the month.

USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program Investments in Minnesota

More than 50,000 acres in Minnesota can begin enrollment to protect water quality and improve wildlife habitat

(ST PAUL, Minn.) Dec. 21, 2016 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Grant Herfindahl today announced that up to 50,000 acres can be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in Minnesota for critical wildlife in addition to the 2,137 acres of CRP Grasslands announced earlier in the month.

“Over the past 30 years, CRP has helped farmers to offset the costs of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and strengthen wildlife habitat,” said Herfindahl. “Given the national cap of 24 million acres, it is more important than ever to pursue multiple benefits on each acre of CRP such that many acres are providing erosion prevention, water conservation, recreation for sportsman, habitat for pollinators, and protection of grazing land.”

Nationwide, farmers and ranchers now can enroll up to 1.1 million acres to restore high-priority wildlife habitat through the CRP State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program, wetlands restoration, or pollinator habitat improvements. In Minnesota, up to 50,000 acres are now available to enroll in the CP38E Rare and Declining Habitat Tall Grass Prairie SAFE that improves pheasant habitat, in addition to soil erosion prevention and water quality improvements.

With the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), high-priority regional conservation goals first are identified by local, state, or tribal governments or non-governmental organizations, after which the federal funds and resources of CRP are supplemented with the non-federal funds and resources to achieve those goals.

“In Minnesota, FSA is also in the final stages of partnering with the state to establish CREP that could protect up to 60,000 acres of a 54 county area to help protect water quality,” said Herfindahl. “Additional details are expected to be announced early next year.”

USDA recently accepted more than 504,000 acres into the CRP Grasslands program, bringing the total to more than 600,000 acres. In Minnesota, FSA accepted 2,137 acres in the program, providing participants with financial assistance for establishing approved grasses, trees and shrubs on pasture and rangeland that can continue to be grazed. Nationally, over 70 percent of the acres are from beginning farmers, veterans and underserved producers. About two-thirds of the acres are in counties with the highest threat for conversion. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of the acres are in wildlife priority areas and nearly three-fourths of the acres will have a wildlife-focused conservation plan as part of the operation.

The previous offer period for CRP Grasslands ended Dec. 16. New offers to participate in CRP Grasslands would be considered in the next ranking period, plus offers submitted from previous ranking periods. Acres are ranked according to current and future use, new and underserved producer involvement, maximum grassland preservation, vegetative cover, pollinator habitat and various other environmental factors. Also, small livestock operations with 100 or fewer head of grazing dairy cows (or the equivalent) can submit applications to enroll up to 200 acres of grasslands per farm.

Throughout the Obama Administration, USDA has generated thousands of critical partnerships to conserve and protect our natural resources on working landscapes, while enrolling a record number of acres in conservation programs. Seventy-percent of the nation’s land is owned and tended to privately, and America’s farmers, ranchers and landowners have willingly stepped up to address the growing impacts of a changing climate. With USDA’s support, they work to implement voluntary practices that improve air and water quality, prevent soil erosion and create and protect wildlife habitat.

Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide.

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

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