Farm Bill program will benefit wildlife and outdoor recreation activity in California Bay Delta Region, Mississippi, Red River Basins and others
WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that $328 million in conservation funding is being invested to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across the nation. The USDA initiative will benefit wildlife and promote outdoor recreation and related sectors of the economy.
"Conservation easements help farmers and ranchers protect valuable agricultural lands from development, restore lands that are best suited for grazing, and return wetlands to their natural conditions," Vilsack said. "These easements are making a dramatic and positive impact for our food supply, rural communities and species habitat."
The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which was created in the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical wetlands and encourage producers to keep lands in farming and ranching. Approximately 380 projects nationwide were selected to protect and restore 32,000 acres of prime farmland, 45,000 acres of grasslands and 52,000 acres of wetlands. A summary of ACEP funding provided to each state can be found online.
In addition to protecting cropland and critical habitats, conservation strengthens outdoor recreation and helps boost the economy. According to the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, annual United States conservation spending totals $38.8 billion, but it produces $93.2 billion of economic output throughout the economy - 2.4 times more than what is put in. This output takes the form of more than 660,500 jobs, $41.6 billion in income and a $59.7 billion contribution to national Gross Domestic Product, or GDP.
Through ACEP, private or tribal landowners and eligible conservation partners working with landowners can request assistance from USDA to protect and enhance agricultural land through an agricultural or wetland easement.
These easements deliver many long-term benefits. For example, this year's projects will:
"The 2014 Farm Bill streamlined USDA's major easement programs into one, putting the important benefits of protecting farmlands, grasslands and wetlands all under one roof to make it as easy as possible for landowners to participate," Vilsack said.
Find more information on ACEP here. To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or local USDA service center.
President Obama and his administration have supported historic investments in conserving clean air, land and water through programs like ACEP, USDA's innovative new Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and many others. ACEP is also one of the many steps USDA is taking to create modern solutions to the challenge of climate change as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan. The Administration's plan responsibly cuts carbon pollution, slows the long-term effects of climate change, helps farmers and others deal with the present-day impact of drought and other severe weather, increases the availability of American grown renewable fuels. Additional information about all of these efforts is available at www.usda.gov/climatesolutions.
Today's announcement was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit: www.usda.gov/farmbill.
Follow us on these social media sites:
The Basin and Range Project
We love the Basin and Range region and work to promote appreciation and respect for the area. We encourage all users to learn about, play in and protect this amazing resource.
We currently focus primarily on issues in the Nevada region of the Basin and Range, but are looking to expand soon.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.