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News Room

CONSERVATION CORNER
November 13, 2006
Conservation Program Places Emphasis On Longleaf Pine
by James L. Cummins

A new, continuous enrollment for longleaf pine has recently been established within the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in Mississippi. The total program is 250,000 acres; Mississippi has been allocated 21,500 acres. Sign-up for the program will begin on December 1, 2006.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the historic range of longleaf pine has declined from over 90 million acres to less than 40 million acres during the past 2 centuries. This vital ecosystem provides valuable habitat to a wide array of wildlife. For instance, over 30 threatened and endangered species, such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, are dependant on longleaf pine habitat for their existence.

Within this conservation priority area, all cropland to be devoted to longleaf pine habitat may be eligible for enrollment in the CRP providing it meets cropping history requirements and is physically and legally capable of being cropped. Establishment of this continuous sign-up is an important step in the effort to reestablish this threatened habitat. It also provides an additional opportunity for producers and landowners to participate in our nation's largest land conservation program.

According to Clarke Reed, Chairman of Wildlife Mississippi, "I encourage all producers and landowners, both large and small, to find out about the conservation and financial benefits of this program."

Land enrolled in this special provision of the CRP will receive an annual rental payment. This payment is based on the relative productivity of the soil type being offered and the average dryland cash rental rate for comparable land in the county. In addition, the landowner will receive a signing incentive payment of $100/acre.

Cost-sharing, at a rate of 90 percent, is available to reestablish longleaf pine habitat. Practices eligible for cost-sharing include, but are not limited to, site preparation and longleaf pine seedlings. Contracts under the sign-up are 10 to 15 years in length.

Annual rental payments are made after October 1 of each year. Cost-share payments are made after the approved practices are completed.

To apply, contact your local USDA Service Center or Farm Service Agency office. You don't have to make a competitive offer as required of other programs. Your offer will be automatically accepted if all eligibility requirements are met.

Portions of the following states are included in the program: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

I especially would like to commend John Johnson, the Deputy Administrator of the Farm Service Agency and Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the Chairman of the U.S. Senate's Agriculture Committee and Martha Scott Poindexter, the Staff Director of the Committee who was born and raised in Inverness, Mississippi, for their hard work in making this program a reality.


James L. Cummins is Executive Director of Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore and enhance fish, wildlife and plant resources throughout Mississippi. Their web site is www.wildlifemiss.org.


 

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