Wetlands program signup begins Aug. 3

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that producers can begin signing up for the Farmable Wetlands Program on Aug. 3, 2009, at their local Farm Service Agency county office.

The Farmable Wetlands Program is an important component of the Conservation Reserve Program authorized in the 2008 farm bill. Authorized incentives include a payment of $100 per acre, an incentive payment of 40 percent of the cost to establish the practice and a 120 percent rental rate.

"The Farmable Wetlands Program is a helpful tool for producers to help protect clean water, control soil erosion and enhance wildlife habitats to preserve these resources for future generations," said Vilsack.

Farmland Wetlands Program (FWP) is a voluntary program to restore up to one million acres of U.S. farmable wetlands and associated buffers by improving the land's hydrology and vegetation. Eligible producers can enroll eligible land in FWP through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). FWP is limited to no more than one million acres and no more than 100,000 acres in any one state. Through FWP, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) establishes 10-15 year contracts with agricultural producers. There are 188,000 acres currently enrolled in the program.

In accordance with the 2008 farm bill, FWP was modified to extend the current authority through Sept. 30, 2012.

Land eligibility was expanded to include:

• Land for a constructed wetland developed to receive flow for a row crop agriculture drainage system for the purpose of providing nitrogen removal and other wetland functions.

• Land that was devoted to commercial pond-raised aquaculture in any year during 2002 – 2007.

• Land that, after Jan. 1, 1990, and before Dec. 31, 2002, was cropped during at least three of 10 crop years, and was subject to the natural overflow of a prairie wetland.

FWP enrollment limitations include 40 acres for wetlands or constructed wetlands, 20 acres for intermittently flooded prairie wetlands, and 40 acres per tract for eligible wetlands and buffers. FWP participants must agree to restore the hydrology of the wetlands to establish vegetative cover which may include emerging vegetation in water, bottomland hardwoods, cypress and other appropriate tree species; and to the general prohibition of using the enrolled land for commercial purposes.

FSA administers FWP on behalf of USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation, in conjunction with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. In addition to the FWP, FSA will also implement 2008 farm bill CRP provisions related to adjusted gross income and tree-thinning practices.

For more information on FSA's conservation programs, please visit your FSA county office or http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

TAGS: Legislative
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