USDA Announces Additional Financial Incentives for Conservation Reserve Program Participants to Improve Forest Health and Enhance Wildlife Habitat

NBCI, the 25 state wildlife management agencies that we represent and our other partners in conservation are pleased that FSA is providing these incentives that can benefit bobwhites and grassland birds by thinning and burning CRP pinelands.

 

JACKSON, Miss., Dec. 9, 2016 – In an effort to improve wildlife habitat and the health of private forest lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced additional incentives available for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants to actively manage forest lands enrolled in the program.

“Many CRP forests were initially established to conserve soil and protect water quality, but there is also a critical need to restore wildlife habitat” said Brad Pfaff, FSA Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs. “Over the years as trees grow and the forest canopy closes, the quality of wildlife habitat for many species declines. These new incentives are intended to reverse that trend, while also maintaining healthy forests.”

The announcement was made at a CRP forest site near Jackson, Miss. In addition to Pfaff, those in attendance included FSA Mississippi State Executive Director Michael R. Sullivan; Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist Kurt Readus; and Office of Senator Thad Cochran Constituent Services Representative Jo Ann Clark.

Under the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, $10 million is available nationwide to eligible CRP participants. Those selected will be encouraged to thin, prescribe burn or otherwise manage their forests in order to allow sunlight to reach the forest floor. This will encourage the development of grasses, forbs and legumes, benefitting numerous species including pollinators and grassland-dependent birds such as the northern bobwhite.

“The program is a win-win for landowners and wildlife as it supports enhanced wildlife habitat on lands already removed from agricultural production, while promoting forest sustainability, soil conservation, and water quality protection,” said Pfaff.

Eligibility is limited to landowners and agricultural producers already enrolled in CRP with conservation covers primarily containing trees. Incentive payments, not to exceed 150 percent of the cost to implement a particular customary forestry activity as described, have been established. CRP participants meeting eligibility requirements and interested in making offers to participate should visit their local FSA county office.

For more information about FSA conservation programs, visit the FSA office at the local USDA service center or go to www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation. To locate the nearest FSA office, go to http://offices.usda.gov.

 

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