Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Enrollment opens for USDA land conservation fund program for farmers

Farmers can begin enrolling in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program, which "pays a yearly rental payment in exchange for farmers' removing environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and planting species that will improve environmental quality," states USDA. Enrollment, which runs through Feb. 26, 2016, is open to landowners for the first time since 2013, reports Tiffany Stecker for Environment and Energy News.

"The 30-year-old Conservation Reserve Program pays landowners to set aside highly erodible and environmentally sensitive tracts for conservation," writes Stecker. "The program hit its peak in 2007, when 36.8 million acres was enrolled. Since then, high crop prices have encouraged farmers to let their conservation acres expire and to plant corn and soybeans instead. In response to declining interest in the program, the 2014 farm bill cut the cap on acres enrolled in the program by a quarter, from 32 million acres to 24 million acres, over the five-year life of the bill. With the lowered caps, conservationists are concerned there may not be enough funding to cover the number of landowners requesting entry into the program." (Read more)

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