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South Dakota Farmers Rewarded for Good Land Stewardship

April 21, 2008

Lyons, NE – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reminding South Dakota farmers located in eligible watersheds they have until May 16 to sign up for the Conservation Security Program, a federal program that rewards farmers and ranchers for providing clean water, better soil management, improved habitat, energy efficiency and other natural resource benefits.

Traci Bruckner with the Center for Rural Affairs, a non-profit group that advocates for rural community development, says her organization is trying to get the word out that, after a long delay, the Conservation Security Program is finally moving forward. She says 51 watersheds across the country are eligible, including many in South Dakota.

"To South Dakota farmers, I would say that this is a perfect opportunity to be rewarded for the work that you've done. For example, if there are any cattle grazers out there who do controlled rotational grazing, you certainly should go in and qualify for this program."

Bruckner notes the Conservation Security Program provides benefits that reach far beyond the farm.

"It's important for not only rural communities but the country as a whole. It provides conservation benefits that lead to clean air, clean water, better soil, health and all those things that benefit everybody. We think that this is really a good direction for policy because it's about what the farmers and ranchers are doing on their farm, not what they're producing and how much they're producing--it's about how they're taking care of those resources."

Although the program is currently operating with limited federal money, Bruckner hopes the new farm bill will allow farmers statewide to apply on a competitive basis, regardless of whether they're in the right watershed or not.

Interested South Dakota producers can find out more at their local Natural Resource Conservation Service to determine if they're in an eligible watershed.

David Law/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - SD