ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

SAFE project expands continuous' CRP help

FARGO, N.D. -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced projects approved for a national program designed to make larger-than-normal tracts of land eligible for inclusion into the "continuous signup" of the Conservation Reserve Program.

FARGO, N.D. -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced projects approved for a national program designed to make larger-than-normal tracts of land eligible for inclusion into the "continuous signup" of the Conservation Reserve Program.

The program is dubbed "State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement" and is a subset of the CRP's continuous signup program.

While incentives traditionally are available only for smaller areas, such as river-related buffers and filter strips, the new SAFE program will allow farmers to enroll larger tracts that apply certain practices aimed at specific wildlife enhancement in those areas.

The program is one thing to cheer about for wildlife groups who have seen CRP acres decline in recent months.

North Dakota's CRP total declined from 3.4 million to 3 million acres in the program, just in the past year, partly as a result of increased crop prices.

ADVERTISEMENT

Acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner, who spoke at the Pheasant Fest farm policy program for Pheasants Forever Inc. in St. Paul, describes 260,000 of project approvals and says the program could grow to 500,000 acres.

The SAFE program will pay for special incentives on up to 26,000 acres in projects announced so far, according to James Jost, a state program specialist with the Farm Service Agency in Fargo, N.D.

Jost describes three projects in the North Dakota, each with acreage caps within them.

  •  5,000 acres for Southwest North Dakota Sagebrush Restoration in the southwest corner of the state, all within a 767,000-acre area. This is designed to maintain or increase the sage grouse population.
  •  1,000 acres in the Eastern North Dakota Tallgrass Prairie Restoration for prairie chicken maintenance, all within a 1.06 million-acre area.
  •  20,000 acres for the Prairie Coteau Waterbank Program with an 8.9 million-acre area, running through central part of the state. This is to enhance duck nesting habitat.

Each state was allocated a number of acres to start with. The project initially was announced in March 2007.
"Anyone within that state could have submitted a proposal for consideration by FSA," Jost says. The proposals went to the state's federal interagency "technical committee," including commodity and producers, and then to the state FSA committee for consideration and recommendation to the national level.

In North Dakota, the Northern Plains Working Group of wildlife agencies and private entities such as Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and state agencies, submitted the projects.

"There are practices that normally would be 'general' signup practices that you can enroll in larger tracts under the 'continuous' signup provisions in a target area," Jost says. "You can enroll those practices and receive some additional incentives."

First, land must be verified as inside the project area. Second, it would have to be eligible for CRP, just like any other cropland.

  •  Annual rent. Officials would determine the CRP rental rate for Stutsman County, N.D., farmland, for example, which averages about $40 an acre. Add a $4-per-acre maintenance amount, and the total comes -- $44 an acre.
  •  One-time payments. Up-front, the government cost-shares 50 percent of the costs of establishing the cover. If that's $50 an acre, the payment is $25 an acre. Also up-front, the government pays 40 percent of a "practice incentive payment" -- another $20 an acre for a total of $45 per acre.
  •  One-time payment. Up front, the landowner receives a "signup incentive payment: -- $100 per acre.

Under the general signups acres a landowner could only get the regular rental rate and the cost-share, but not the incentive payments. The continuous practices typically covers only the footprint of the involved practice -- the field windbreak or filter strip, for example -- while SAFE involves a larger tract, Jost says.

What To Read Next
Researchers with North Dakota State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working to see if a particular variety of Lewis flax has the potential to be a useful crop.
No one was seriously injured when the top exploded off the silo because of built-up gasses from the burning corn.
Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions says its pipeline project will help ethanol plants. The project aims to capture greenhouse gas emissions and pipe the CO2 to western North Dakota for underground storage.
The number of cows going to slaughter is far above the five-year average. Attendees of the annual Cow Calf Days tour in Minnesota heard the latest on cattle trends.