U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Illinois Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director (SED) Scherrie V. Giamanco today announced that up to 15,000 acres can be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in Illinois for critical wildlife and water quality efforts.
“Over the past 30 years, CRP has helped farmers to offset the costs of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and strengthen wildlife habitat,” said Giamanco. “Given the national cap of 24 million acres, it is more important than ever to pursue multiple benefits on each acre of CRP such that many acres are providing erosion prevention, water conservation, recreation for sportsman, habitat for pollinators, and protection of grazing land.”
Nationwide, farmers and ranchers now can enroll up to 1.1 million acres to restore high-priority wildlife habitat through the CRP State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program, wetlands restoration, or pollinator habitat improvements. In Illinois, up to 15,000 acres are now available to enroll in the existing, Illinois Grassland-Wetland Habitat Restoration SAFE Project that, in addition to soil erosion prevention and water quality improvements, this project is protecting populations of grassland bird species including those listed as endangered or threatened.
USDA recently accepted more than 504,000 acres into the CRP Grasslands program, bringing the total to more than 600,000 acres. In Illinois, FSA accepted 247.4 acres in the program, providing participants with financial assistance for establishing approved grasses, trees and shrubs on pasture and rangeland that can continue to be grazed.
Throughout the Obama Administration, USDA has generated thousands of critical partnerships to conserve and protect our natural resources on working landscapes, while enrolling a record number of acres in conservation programs. Seventy-percent of the nation’s land is owned and tended to privately, and America’s farmers, ranchers and landowners have willingly stepped up to address the growing impacts of a changing climate. With USDA’s support, they work to implement voluntary practices that improve air and water quality, prevent soil erosion and create and protect wildlife habitat.
Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide.
To learn more about FSA’s conservation programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation or contact a local FSA county office. To find your local FSA county office, visit https://offices.usda.gov/.