The Piscataquis River Watershed has been selected as one of 202 watersheds across the nation that will receive funding to recognize farmers who are caring well for their lands. The Casco Bay Watershed, located in Cumberland and Oxford counties, was the only other Maine site selected for the 2005 program.
The new Conservation Security Program (CSP), part of the 2002 Farm Bill, will provide payments to qualified farmers based on a three-tier system measuring the level of conservation treatment on their land, and on their willingness to implement additional environmental practices. The program will cover pastureland, hayland and any type of cropland.
The CSP program was piloted in 18 watersheds nationally last summer. The expanded program, announced recently by Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman, will expand participation to about one eighth of the nation's eligible farmers.
"As an agency, and as a nation, we have helped farmers and ranchers fix conservation problems such as soil erosion or water conservation since the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s," said Joyce Swartzendruber, State Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). "This, however, represents a whole new direction in conservation and agricultural policy and programs. These payments for demonstratable long-term stewardship will reward many of those who undertook conservation on their own initiative and who care for the resources we all share."
Swartzendruber said that while protecting soil and water quality is the "price of admission," farmers will also have opportunities to improve wildlife habitat, undertake on-farm energy conservation, improve air quality and improve nutrient and pest management practices.
NRCS and the Piscataquis County Soil & Water Conservation District will host a workshop to explain the program to interested farmers in the near future. For more information, call 564-2321.
CSP will continue to be offered each year, on a rotational basis, in as many watersheds as funding allows. For more information about this, and other NRCS programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.
|Back to News||Home||Print This Story|