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VENEMAN ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF $1.6 BILLION FOR VOLUNTARY CONSERVATION PROGRAMS ON WORKING LANDS
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2004-Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced the release of $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2005 funding for conservation programs on working lands, which, by knowing the initial mandatory program funding and technical assistance levels well before the next planting season begins, will help producers connect their business decisions to protecting water, air, soil and wildlife.
"This is one of the largest investments in conservation on private lands in our nation's history," Veneman said. "In making the announcement today, we are responding to agricultural producers who want greater certainty and predictability in their decisions regarding environmental stewardship before planting season begins."
Veneman said that these program funds were being provided much earlier than in the past.
"Releasing the funds earlier in the year gives farmers and ranchers more time to make sound decisions regarding conservation practices," said Veneman. "This announcement will make conservations programs fully operational in every state and give producers the information they need to develop more effective conservation plans."
Veneman added that this effort is another example of the Bush Administration's commitment to providing the tools and resources that will help agriculture producers remain the best stewards of the land. For example, on Earth Day 2004, President Bush highlighted the progress made by USDA in restoring America's wetlands and announced an aggressive national goal to increase overall wetland acres and quality by restoring, improving and protecting at least 3 million wetland acres over the next five years. To help meet this goal, the President called on Congress to pass his FY 2005 Budget request, which includes $4.4 billion for conservation programs. By surpassing the decade-old "no- net-loss" policy, the President sent a message that we can continue the fight against soil erosion, improve the quality of our water and air and enhance wildlife habitat across America's productive agricultural landscape.
In August, the President announced an expansion of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
As part of this announcement, the President unveiled CRP initiatives to create 250,000 acres of habitat for the northern bobwhite quail and to restore 250,000 acres of wetlands and playa lakes located outside the 100-year floodplain.
In September, the President issued an Executive Order, Facilitation of Cooperative Conservation, which promotes cooperative conservation. The Executive Order emphasized appropriate local participation in Federal decision-making, in accordance with respective agency missions, policies and regulations. Cooperative conservation will enhance the enjoyment of natural resources through greater protection of the environment by involving collaborative activity among Federal, State, local and tribal governments, private for-profit and nonprofit institutions, other nongovernmental entities and individuals.
To help implement these initiatives, the Administration is announcing the initial conservation funding allocation today to allow USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservationists to work with farmers and ranchers nationwide to improve soil, water, air and at-risk habitat on privately-owned working lands in several programs.
Fiscal year 2005 allocations include $1.310 billion in financial assistance and $306 million for technical assistance for NRCS voluntary conservation programs and other activities. Veneman said that States will receive additional money after Congress makes discretionary funding decisions.
With financial and technical assistance from NRCS, farmers, ranchers 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 wetlands ecosystems and wildlife habitat.
Key conservation programs and allocations include:
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): $793,590,395. 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): $62,874,481. GSWC assists farmers and ranchers to 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: $9,734,200. These funds will help farmers and ranchers to 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): $244,533,800. WRP is a voluntary program that helps landowners restore, enhance and protect wetlands through permanent easements, 30-year easements and restoration cost-share agreements. The program works to maximize wildlife habitat and wetland functions and values.
- Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP): $66,574,678. 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.
- Grassland Reserve Program (GRP): $40,832,400. GRP is a voluntary program designed to protect and restore grasslands, biodiversity, wildlife habitat and reduce soil erosion while sustaining viable working ranches. In 2005, GRP will utilize over $2 million to benefit the Greater Sage Grouse in key western states and protect precious Tall Grass habitat in Kansas.
- Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP): $21,935,051. 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.
- Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA): $12,997,456. AMA is available in 15 states where participation in the Federal Crop Insurance Program has been historically low: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. It helps farmers and ranchers voluntarily address natural resource concerns by incorporating conservation into farming operations while managing financial risk.
- Conservation Reserve Program (CRP): $56,599,700 in technical assistance. CRP, administered by the Farm Service Agency, encourages farmers and ranchers to voluntarily establish conservation practices to protect environmentally sensitive land, provide food and habitat for wildlife and protect ground and surface water from runoff and sedimentation. Since the inception of CRP in 1986, this program has helped reduce soil erosion by more than 40 percent and restored 1.8 million acres of critical wetland acreage.
In addition, the allocation includes dollars for the Conservation Security Program (CSP). It includes $32,386,009 for active contracts and $162,024,991 for 2005 sign-up. State allocations for sign-up will be made at a later date. CSP recognizes those producers who are excellent stewards of the land and are willing to do even more by supporting ongoing conservation stewardship of agricultural working lands. In 2004, CSP was offered in 18 watersheds. In 2005 it is expected to be available in watersheds in all 50 states and a renewable energy component will be introduced that rewards farmers and ranchers for converting to renewable energy fuels such as soy bio-diesel and ethanol, for recycling 100 percent of on-farm lubricants, and for implementing energy production, including wind, solar, geothermal, and methane production.
A list of allocation totals by states is attached. Additional information on conservation programs is available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs. Landowners who want specific information regarding program participation should contact their local USDA Service Center or NRCS office, locate at http://offices.usda.gov or in the telephone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
FY 2005 Conservation Funding Allocation Totals by State:
- ALABAMA - $16,361,398
- ALASKA - $12,063,754
- ARIZONA - $22,798,017
- ARKANSAS - $41,163,612
- CALIFORNIA - $76,527,695
- COLORADO - $44,923,235
- CONNECTICUT - $12,120,914
- DELAWARE - $13,122,624
- FLORIDA - $39,180,466
- GEORGIA - $20,318,618
- HAWAII - $14,196,660
- IDAHO - $20,118,692
- ILLINOIS - $41,285,287
- INDIANA - $31,689,560
- IOWA - $48,560,335
- KANSAS - $36,357,890
- KENTUCKY - $21,386,263
- LOUISIANA - $31,345,777
- MAINE - $12,845,445
- MARYLAND - $14,492,322
- MASSACHUSETTS - $12,723,263
- MICHIGAN - $31,701,895
- MINNESOTA - $51,799,769
- MISSISSIPPI - $34,353,345
- MISSOURI - $42,984,923
- MONTANA - $36,415,786
- NEBRASKA - $48,643,710
- NEVADA - $13,233,526
- NEW HAMPSHIRE - $12,447,787
- NEW JERSEY - $13,057,785
- NEW MEXICO - $28,662,499
- NEW YORK - $24,071,960
- NORTH CAROLINA - $26,571,141
- NORTH DAKOTA - $24,849,371
- OHIO - $27,151,680
- OKLAHOMA - $34,171,181
- OREGON - $35,879,379
- PENNSYLVANIA - $20,678,087
- RHODE ISLAND - $12,453,259
- SOUTH CAROLINA - $18,800,811
- SOUTH DAKOTA - $26,178,571
- TENNESSEE - $15,891,980
- TEXAS - $97,524,457
- UTAH - $24,517,391
- VERMONT - $12,399,553
- VIRGINIA - $16,010,934
- WASHINGTON - $31,088,315
- WEST VIRGINIA - $12,684,683
- WISCONSIN - $36,089,902
- WYOMING - $20,001,796
- PACIFIC BASIN - $1,731,669
- PUERTO RICO - $6,429,200
- CSP sign-up* - $162,024.991
- Total - $1,580,058,170
* State allocations for CSP sign-up will be made at a later date.