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USDA Conservation Programs

  USDA Provides Funding and Resources for Conservation.

     The United States Department of Agriculture has a proven portfolio and growing number of programs available for producers that give producers the technical and financial assistance they need to develop more effective conservation plans that improve the environment and help rural communities.

     The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) are in charge of USDA's conservation programs for private land management and environmental stewardship.

     These conservation benefits and successes, along with the President's conservation budgets, support a continued cooperative conservation effort that gives farmers and ranchers the ability to become the best stewards of the land. In keeping with that vision, President Bush has proposed a strong budget for conservation efforts in fiscal year 2006, including $3.8 billion to continue implementation of the conservation programs authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill. These funds will allow USDA, landowners and operators to build on a tremendously strong record for cooperative, voluntary conservation.

     National performance highlights of key conservation programs and initiatives operated by NRCS include:

     Conservation Security Program (CSP): During the first year of the program, more than $35 million helped nearly 2,200 producers conserve and improve soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life on nearly two million acres of tribal and private working lands. Environmental enhancement activities offered by applicants included improving wildlife habitat, air quality management and on-farm energy management.

     Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Nearly $720 million helped almost 46,500 farmers and ranchers improve soil, air and water quality and related resources on private working lands. About 62 percent of EQIP funds were associated with livestock concerns. More than 8 percent of approved contracts were signed with limited resource producers and beginning farmers. Approximately 60 percent of funded practices directly impact one of the four national EQIP priorities while 40 percent reflect a primary impact on state or local priorities.

     Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP): $90 million funded 550 conservation easements on nearly 115,000 acres of valuable farm and ranch land to protect it from conversion to nonagricultural uses. For every federal dollar invested through FRPP, an additional $2.28 has been contributed by participating state and local governments, nongovernmental organizations and landowners.

     Grassland Reserve Program (GRP): $56 million funded more than 1,000 private landowners to protect and restore grasslands, biodiversity and wildlife habitat and reduce soil erosion while sustaining viable working ranches on 283,000 acres. An additional $2 million was provided to help greater sage grouse conservation and recovery efforts in four western states. GRP is administered jointly by NRCS and FSA.

     Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP): Nearly $275 million helped more than 1,000 private landowners restore, enhance and protect wetlands to maximize wildlife habitat and wetland functions and values on close to 200,000 acres. Restoration projects were completed on nearly 150,000 acres of wetlands and associated upland areas. The first two Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) partnership projects were approved. More than $4 million was provided for the WREP project in Nebraska that will restore and enhance a total of 18,800 acres when the project is completed. Nearly $3 million was provided for a WREP project in Minnesota that will restore approximately 7,250 acres of environmentally sensitive wetlands throughout the state.

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