By Bobbie KrizWickham, Public Affairs and Outreach Coordinator, Nebraska FSA
USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini recently joined conservation partners in Lincoln, Nebraska, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This milestone was celebrated with field tours and a reception that included a mix of federal and state government leaders as well as farmers, conservationists and wildlife officials.
Administrator Dolcini kicked off his Nebraska visit at the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative annual meeting. This group is made up of 25 states dedicated to a unified strategy for bobwhite quail restoration. He told the group “it’s the partnerships that make it work so well,” as he discussed the importance of CRP to soil conservation, wildlife habitat and water quality improvement across the nation. The theme carried throughout the rest of the day’s activities.
Administrator Dolcini spent the afternoon visiting two Nebraska farms, both of which have tracts of former corn and soybean cropland enrolled in CRP. During the tour, conservation officials explained the “art and science” that goes into developing a good seed mix, the importance of mid-contract management, and possible program changes that would allow for haying and grazing on some CRP acres where it is currently prohibited.
An early evening reception featured remarks from Administrator Dolcini and Nebraska Lt. Governor Mike Foley. Leo Hoehn, a crop and livestock producer from the western Nebraska community of Scottsbluff provided a firsthand account of how CRP and other farm bill programs have been critical to his farming operation.
“I feel good about passing this ranch on to the next generation,” Hoehn said. “With the partnerships we’ve had, we are in a good place to pass it on.”
Nebraska USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Craig Derickson is proud of NRCS’s work in the state.
“If this is the first 30 years of CRP, think of what the next 30 will bring,” Derickson said.
Administrator Dolcini completed his stop in Nebraska by visiting the Nebraska FSA State Office and the Otoe County FSA Office. He thanked employees in both locations for their hard work to deliver farm bill programs to the state’s thousands of farmers and ranchers.
“I have been to 45 states, and I always try to get out in the field,” Dolcini said. “I understand what it means in the counties to deliver programs. We are very connected to our customers at FSA. You are doing things the right way.”
Since its creation on Dec. 23, 1985, CRP has helped prevent more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding and protected more than 170,000 stream miles with riparian and grass buffers, more than 100,000 acres of bottomland hardwood trees, nearly 300,000 acres of flood-plain wetlands, and 250,000 acres each for duck nesting habitat and upland bird habitat.
Over the past seven years, USDA has strengthened conservation initiatives throughout rural America. Visit www.fsa.usda.gov/CRPis30 to learn more about the achievements of the Conservation Reserve Program over the past three decades. To learn more about the Conservation Reserve Program, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation. To find your local USDA Service Center, visit http://offices.usda.gov.