HAMILTON SQUARE, N.J. — U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Paul Hlubik recently announced that up to 1,560 acres can be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program in New Jersey 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 Hlubik. “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 program, wetlands restoration, or pollinator habitat improvements. In New Jersey, up to 950 acres are now available to enroll in the three existing project areas, New Jersey Grassland SAFE, New Jersey Raritan-Piedmont SAFE and New Jersey Agricultural Heritage SAFE, that, in addition to soil erosion prevention and water quality improvements, to benefit rare and declining grassland-dependent birds, such as bobolink, vesper sparrow, eastern meadowlark, northern bobwhite quail, grasshopper and savannah sparrows and upland sand; to protect and restore grassland bird habitat; and to benefit grassland nesting birds, by restoring native warm- and cool-season grasslands embedded within large agricultural landscapes.
USDA recently accepted more than 504,000 acres into the CRP Grasslands program, bringing the total to more than 600,000 acres. Nationally, over 70 percent of the acres are from beginning farmers, veterans and underserved producers. About two-thirds of the acres are in counties with the highest threat for conversion. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of the acres are in wildlife priority areas and nearly three-fourths of the acres will have a wildlife-focused conservation plan as part of the operation.
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 the local FSA county office — Al DiBella, County Executive Director | Salem/Gloucester Counties, Farm Service Agency, United States Department of Agriculture at 51 Cheney Road in Woodstown. Call 856-769-1126.