USDA Announces New Conservation Opportunities to Improve Water Quality and Restore Wildlife Habitat
December 9, 2017

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will offer farmers and ranchers more opportunities to participate in the Conservation Reserve Program. The announcement includes new CRP practices to protect water quality and adds an additional 1.1 million acres targeted to benefit wildlife, pollinators and wetlands.

Vilsack unveiled a new conservation initiative known as Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers, which will add new tools to CRP that can help to improve water quality. CLEAR will assist landowners with the cost of building bioreactors and saturated buffers that filter nitrates and other nutrients from tile-drained cropland. Early estimates indicate that CLEAR could help to reduce nitrate runoff by as much as 40 percent over traditional conservation methods. CLEAR may cover up to 90 percent of the cost to install these new practices through incentives and cost-share.

USDA will also add an additional 1.1 million acres to a number of key CRP practices that are critically important to wildlife and conservation. These include 700,000 acres for State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement efforts, which restore high-priority wildlife habitat tailored to a specific state's needs. In addition to SAFE, 300,000 acres will be added to target wetlands restoration that are nature's water filters and 100,000 acres for pollinator habitat that support 30 percent of agricultural production.

To learn more about the Farm Service Agency's conservation programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation or contact your local FSA office.