May 22, 2022

Department of Agriculture aims to expand conservation partnerships

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is leveraging its powers under the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to attract new types of partners and ultimately expand voluntary conservation opportunities for agricultural producers and private landowners in the country.

In direct response to feedback from state agencies, tribes, nonprofits, and other groups, the USDA updated the program rule regarding matching fund requirements and invested in staff. extra to work directly with partners for streamlined, partner-driven conservation efforts.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program allows the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation, through the Farm Service Agency, and its partners to co-invest in partner-led projects. CREP also plays an important role in the USDA’s broader climate change strategy, bringing together growers, landowners, and partners for climate-smart land management.

“CREP is one of the most flexible tools we have for local partner-led efforts to reward producers and achieve significant environmental and climate results,” FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux said, according to a USDA press release. “We look forward to working with diverse new partners who can shape the CRP to address the priorities most important to them and to local communities, from water quality and conservation to wildlife habitat and outcomes. climatic. CREP’s changes to this rule will remove barriers and provide partners with increased flexibility to participate in this powerful program. »

“We want to build capacity so we can better reach our partners, including those we may not have worked with before,” Ducheneaux said. “We are taking steps to reduce barriers to access and opportunity for historically underserved growers and landowners, and by engaging more partners, we are working with groups that provide a direct connection to these communities.”

Investments in CREP staff build on other recent FSA outreach and education efforts, including a $4.7 million investment announced this year to partner with organizations to provide assistance and technical assistance to historically underserved farmers and ranchers on a variety of CCC and FSA programs, including conservation programs.

Currently, all CREP partners are States; however, the FSA strongly encourages tribes and non-governmental organizations to consider partnerships.

To learn more about CREP and other CRP opportunities, growers and landowners should contact their local USDA Service Center.

For more information, contact your county FSA office or USDA Service Center locator, or visit usda.gov.

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