USDA offering long-term water quality-focused program


The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced the signup period for its Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers initiative (CLEAR30) started Friday and ends Aug. 5.

The incentive-based conservation program is a nationwide opportunity for certain landowners and agricultural producers currently implementing water quality practices through the Conservation Reserve Program to enroll in 30-year contracts, extending the lifespan and strengthening the benefits of important water quality practices on their land, according to a news release from the USDA.

“Farmers, ranchers and agricultural landowners know better than most that clean water is essential,” said Susan Houston, the Farm Service Agency acting state executive director in Indiana.

Cropland and certain pastureland currently enrolled in Continuous CRP or the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and dedicated to an eligible water quality practice, such as riparian buffers, contour strips, grass waterways or wetland restoration, may be eligible if their contracts are expiring by Sept. 30.

The contracts, effective Oct. 1, are designed to ensure conservation practices remain in place for 30 years, which improves water quality through reducing sediment and nutrient runoff and helping prevent algal blooms. Conservation in riparian areas also provides important carbon sequestration benefits.

Traditional CRP contracts run from 10 to 15 years.

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