Farmland conservation program sign up begins - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Farmland conservation program sign up begins

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March 24, 2006

Lee County  -- In the coming weeks many South Georgia farmers will be planting crops. But many landowners are expected to plant trees or grass, as part of a United States Department of Agriculture conservation program.

These pine trees are planted on what used to be a peanut field in Lee County.  Now it's part of the U.S.D.A's Conservation Reserve Program, serving the vital role of protecting the land from water or wind erosion. Farm Service Agency Lee County Director said "It might be cropland that the farmer wants to retire from production, or it may just be cropland they choose not to work anymore."

March 27th is the start of the sign up program for the Conservation Reserve Program. Landowners sign a ten or 15 year contract to plant land cover like trees or grass instead of crops, even in areas that might be problematic. Hammond said "Some folks see it as marginal cropland, or eroding cropland. We reduce erosion, we have numerous wildlife benefits, environmental benefits."

The U.S.D.A. pays an average 50 dollars per acre per year to join the program, and pays fifty percent of the cost to establish the cover.

For the landowner, it's a chance to insure South Georgia's environment. For wildlife, it's a new place to call home. Hammond said "The public, and the farmer and the farm itself are the winners for participating in this program."

 Landowners can sign up for the U.S.D.A. conservation reserve program from March 27th through April 14th at their county Farm Service Agency office.

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