STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced a $200 million expansion of the highly successful Pennsylvania Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
This program is a federal/state partnership to improve the water quality of Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams along the Chesapeake Bay.
Eligible producers can sign up starting Sept. 2 at their local Farm Service Agency offices.
Prevention. The Pennsylvania program has prevented 1.1 million tons of sediment and reduced over 1 million pounds of nitrogen and phosphorous from entering the Chesapeake Bay.
In addition to filtering sediment and nutrients from runoff water, vegetation planted through the program improves water quality and provides shelter, nesting areas and food for various wildlife species, such as grassland birds and small game.
Funding. The program, first announced in April 2000, was originally funded at $210 million and included 20 counties in the lower Susquehanna and Potomac River basins.
The project is now expanded to an additional 100,000 acres and an additional 23 northern-tier counties.
The additional $200 million brings the total funding to $410 million.
Of the $200 million, USDA is expected to pay up to $129 million of the cost of enrolling the additional 100,000 acres in the program. Pennsylvania’s share is $71 million.
Voluntary. The conservation program is a voluntary program that pays participants to plant hardwood trees or establish grass filter strips, riparian forest buffers, vegetation and other conservation practices on environmentally sensitive land.
In return, participants receive annual rental payments, cost-share assistance and other financial incentives.
It combines an existing USDA program, the Conservation Reserve Program, with state programs to provide a framework for partnerships to meet specific state and national environmental objectives.
Interested farmers and ranchers should contact their local FSA offices for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures. Additional information is also available at www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/cepd/crep.htm.
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