State Signs Deal with Feds for Plan to Create More Habitats for Wildlife in Arkansas

JANUARY 5, 2005 - Posted at 7:53 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state has signed a deal with the federal government that lets Arkansas participate in a new plan that pays farmers to leave segments of agricultural land untilled to create habitat for wildlife.

The program is a new part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency Conservation Reserve Program.  It does not affect existing CRP programs.

Agriculture and wildlife officials said the measure, known as Continuous Practice 33, will benefit both farmers and animals, in particular the state's declining qual population.

Under the initiative, up to 12,000 acres of farmland in Arkansas can be enrolled to create "buffer zones" from 30 to 120 feet wide on cropland.  To qualify, the land must have been farmed at least four years between 1996 and 2001.

Farmers can contact their local FSA office to get more information.

The FSA will pay $100 per acre for each acre enrolled and up to $65 a year per acre for the life of the ten-year contracts.  Farmers are required to plant grasses and shrubs to restore native wildlife habitat; incentive payments to help defray up to 90 percent of the planting costs.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)