New conservation program announced

About $664,000 is now available in Kansas through a new conservation program announced last week by Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.

Nationwide, $20 million dollars is being made available through the Soil and Water Conservation Assistance Program.

Tomas Dominguez, state conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which will provide overall leadership for the program, said these funds will help meet the conservation needs and requests by Kansas farmers and ranchers.

“Our local offices will begin taking applications for these funds immediately,” Dominguez said. “The application process will continue through September. However, on July 27 we will do the first ranking of the applications received by that date, and begin committing the funds. We encourage people to apply early.”

The Soil and Water Conservation Assistance funds can help landowners make cost-effective changes to cropping systems, grazing management, nutrient management and irrigation.

A conservation plan developed with NRCS will be required. Federal cost-share funds of 75 percent of the eligible practice or practices are available. Contracts will be five to 10 years.

Authorized last year by Congress through the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000, the SWCA funds must be obligated by Oct. 1, 2001.

For more information about the SWCA program, contact the USDA Service Center in Marion. Visit with the NRCS staff and pick up a fact sheet about the program.

Information about SWCA is also available on the Kansas NRCS web site: under “What’s New.”

The phone number for the NRCS office in Marion is 620-382-3737.

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