USDA conservation initiative aimed at improving water quality

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this month that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will offer farmers and ranchers more opportunities to participate in the Conservation Reserve Program by adding new CRP practices to protect water quality and an additional 1.1 million acres targeted to benefit wildlife, pollinators and wetlands.

Vilsack unveiled the new conservation initiative, known as Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers (CLEAR), which will add new tools to CRP that can help to improve water quality. CLEAR will assist landowners with the cost of building bioreactors and saturated buffers that filter nitrates and other nutrients from tile-drained cropland.

Early estimates indicate that CLEAR could help to reduce nitrate runoff by as much as 40 percent over traditional conservation methods. CLEAR may cover up to 90 percent of the cost to install these new practices through incentives and cost-share.

These new methods are especially important in areas where traditional buffers have not been enough to prevent nutrients from reaching bodies of water.

USDA will also add an additional 1.1 million acres to a number of key CRP practices that are critically important to wildlife and conservation. These include 700,000 acres for State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) efforts, which restore high-priority wildlife habitat tailored to a specific state's needs.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Avenue Southwest Washington, DC - 20250

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