USDA announces funding for farm bill programs

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner announced the release of nearly $1.7 billion in fiscal year 2006 funding for voluntary conservation farm bill programs on working lands.

Through cooperative conservation, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will help farmers and ranchers make sound conservation decisions that improve soil, water, air and wildlife habitat on privately owned working lands.

Fiscal year 2006 allocations include $1.345 billion in financial assistance and $337 million for technical assistance for NRCS voluntary conservation programs. States will receive additional money after Congress makes final funding decisions through the fiscal year 2006 appropriations process.

With financial and technical assistance from NRCS, producers and other landowners will continue to address resource concerns on agricultural working lands, promote environmental quality, address challenges in water quality and quantity, protect prime farmland and grazing lands, and protect valuable wetland ecosystems and fish and wildlife habitat.

Key voluntary conservation programs and allocations include the following:

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): $1,017,000,000—EQIP assists farmers and ranchers to improve soil, air and water quality and other related resources on private working lands.

Ground and Surface Water Conservation (GSWC): $51,000,000—GSWC helps farmers and ranchers conserve our nation’s ground and surface water resources. The funding will result in improving agricultural water use efficiency and result in a net savings to ground and surface water reserves.

Klamath Basin: $8,118,000—These funds will help farmers and ranchers enhance water quality, reduce water usage by increasing irrigation efficiencies, and improve habitat for affected fish and wildlife in the Klamath Basin.

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP): $245,704,302—WRP is a voluntary program that helps landowners restore, enhance and conserve wetlands through permanent easements, 30-year easements and restoration cost-share agreements. The program maximizes wildlife habitat and wetland functions and values.

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP): $73,500,000—FRPP is a voluntary program that provides matching funds to state and local governments and non-governmental organizations to purchase conservation easements on farm and ranch land. Since 1996, FRPP, in partnership with state and local governments and nongovernmental organizations, has protected over 440,000 acres.

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP): $43,000,000—WHIP offers technical and financial assistance through long-term agreements to create, restore and enhance wildlife habitat for upland wildlife, wetland wildlife, threatened, endangered or at-risk species and fisheries as well as other types of wildlife.

Conservation Security Program (CSP): $245,000,000—CSP is a voluntary program that rewards conservation innovators. The program is offered nationally on working lands rewarding the nation’s leading conservationists and providing incentives for them and others to do more. Environmental enhancement activities offered by applicants include improving soil quality, water quality, wildlife habitat management, nutrient and pest management, air quality management and on-farm energy management.

Additional information on conservation programs is available at . Landowners who want specific information about program participation should contact their local USDA Service Center or NRCS office, located at in the telephone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

From the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2005, issue

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