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GLIN==> New program pumps $240 million into WI conservation effort

Posted on behalf of Mike Friis <Michael.Friis@doa.state.wi.us>

Release: 10/05/01

Contact: Jane Larson, 608/224-5005 or Keith Foye, 608/224-4603

MADISON--A new agricultural conservation program that is unprecedented in
Wisconsin's history is set to begin, announced Jim Harsdorf, Secretary of
the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program will provide up to $240 million
in state and federal funding to landowners to assist them with reducing soil
erosion and improving water quality statewide; up to 100,000 acres across
the state may be enrolled in the program.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman authorized $200 million in federal
funds for Wisconsin. Gov. Scott McCallum is expected to sign the contract
that officially accepts the CREP program and commits the state to an
additional $40 million.

"This has been a long - and at times difficult - road, requiring a great
deal of coordination between local, state and federal agencies. Any program
of this magnitude has endless details," said Harsdorf. "I commend all those
who have made CREP a reality for Wisconsin. Without them I wouldn't be here
today with this good news."

Landowners will be able to enroll their land either for 15 years or
permanently to install practices such as riparian buffers and filter strips
on their land. These practices will keep soil in place, protect water
quality, and provide wildlife habitat. In turn, landowners will receive
state and federal funds to help pay for those practices.

"Our goal is to begin CREP sign-ups in Wisconsin within the next month,"
Harsdorf said.

First proposed in 1998, the CREP program involves federal, state, and county
agencies working together toward a common goal. DATCP has taken the lead in
coordinating these efforts into a working system.

After Gov. McCallum has signed the agreement, DATCP will focus on
implementing CREP at the county level. "Local involvement is the key to
making CREP successful," said Harsdorf.

In the next few weeks Harsdorf will appoint an Oversight Team to act as a
liaison between the state and the county.

"This team will address local concerns about the workload and other issues
surrounding CREP," said Harsdorf. "We need to let the counties know that
we're going to support them as they take on this ground-breaking effort,"
said Harsdorf.

For more information about the CREP plan, contact Keith Foye, conservation
manager, 608-224-4603.

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