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Assistance Available for Organic Farm Conservation Buffers
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/07/2016

The USDA announced it will assist organic farmers with the cost of establishing up to 20,000 acres of new conservation buffers and other practices on and near farms that produce organic crops. Brad Pfaff, the Farm Service Agency's deputy administrator for farm programs, unveiled the news at last week's the Midwest Organics and Sustainable Education Service conference in La Crosse.

"This financial assistance will help tailor existing conservation practices to the needs of organic farmers, helping to improve soil and water quality while also providing more wildlife habitat," said Pfaff, a rural La Crosse County native who previously served as Wisconsin's FSA Director. "This is one part of the wide variety of services available to all segments of agriculture at local FSA offices, in addition to credit, risk protection, on-farm storage and other services."

The financial assistance is available from the Conservation Reserve Program, a federally funded voluntary program that contracts with agricultural producers so that environmentally sensitive land is not farmed or ranched, but instead used for conservation benefits. CRP participants establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat. In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years.

For conservation buffers, funds are available for establishing shrubs and trees, or supporting pollinating species, and can be planted in blocks or strips. Interested organic producers can offer eligible land for enrollment in this initiative at any time.

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