NRCS Pays Farmers to Stop Fighting Damaged, Wet Fields
News Release - Indiana
United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
6013 Lakeside Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN 46278
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, February 4, 2012—Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Jane Hardisty today announced that Indiana NRCS has $5.4 million dollars available for new enrollments into the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) for 2012. NRCS pays farmers for easements on fields that go into WRP, and pays to restore lands to wetlands too.
WRP is the federal government's largest wetlands restoration program. “Ag producers in Indiana have shown strong interest in WRP, especially with the flooding events over the past few years along Indiana’s rivers and streams,” said Hardisty. WRP allows NRCS to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands that have been degraded or converted for agricultural uses. Participation in WRP is completely voluntary.
WRP easements are permanent and remove the field from agricultural production. Value is assigned to the land based on whether it is “Ag Land” or “Non-Ag Land.” NRCS uses Geographic Area Rate Caps (GARC), which are set for each county in the state. For instance, in Daviess County, the Ag Land rate is $2,755, and the Non Ag Land rate is $1,653. Title to the land remains with the owner. If restoration work is needed, NRCS pays 100 percent of the costs, up to set maximum caps.
“We have had strong funding in the Wetlands Reserve Program for the last several years and have been able to offer opportunities to farmers who have had flood damaged fields or fields where production has declined because of repeated flooding. With WRP we restore this land to the kind of condition it was in before being converted for farming,” said Hardisty. “This will reduce erosion on that land, restore wildlife habitat, and enable those farmers to make other needed improvements in their farming operations.”
Estimated to have covered more than 220 million acres during colonial times, wetlands in the lower 48 states are now less than half that amount. Wetland losses in some states are more than 90 percent. More than 40 percent of federally listed species and over 50 percent of migratory birds require wetland habitats during some portion of their life cycle. Between 2009 and 2011, over 650,000 acres of wetlands were enrolled in WRP across the country.
“Now is an excellent time to apply,” says Assistant State Conservationist Teresah Caire. “We accept applications for WRP continuously. We will evaluate and rank the applications we have in hand on March 31 to see how much of the funding we are able to assign to Indiana WRP applications. We’ll know soon after that which applications are funded. All states are operating under the same funding timeframe, and states that don’t have approved applications in hand for most of their funding could lose some of it.”
For more information about WRP and to find out the 2012 GARC rates for your county, visit the Indiana NRCS WRP Web site at: http://www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/WRP/WRPhomepage.html.
Interested producers should contact their NRCS district conservationist at a USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Visit http://www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/directory/field_offices.html to find the nearest USDA Service Center.
Jane Hardisty, NRCS State Conservationist, firstname.lastname@example.org 317-295-5801
Becky Fletcher, NRCS Public Affairs Officer, email@example.com 317-295-5825
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