“CREP pays farmers to plant buffer strips of native trees and grasses that help keep nutrients, pesticides and fertilizer on the land where they belong, and out of the waterways,” said Paul Hlubik, State Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in New Jersey. “I congratulate Don Emel on being the first farmer in the state to install a project under this program and look forward to working with many more farmers in New Jersey to undertake similar conservation practices.”
Don Emel, a third-generation farmer, installed a grass waterway on his Mannington Township farm after losing more than five acres of topsoil due to erosion. Grass waterways are designed to convey runoff from fields without causing erosion. He will receive a total of up to $54,395 – $29,938 from the Farm Service Agency in incentive and installation payments, another $2,882 from the N.J. Department of Agriculture toward installation costs, and up to $25,575 from the Farm Service Agency in annual contract payments to maintain the practice over a period of 15 years.
“The rivers and lakes in New Jersey are a place hunters, fishermen, conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts and weekend family picnickers have used and enjoyed for generations,” said Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (2nd NJ). “We are thankful to the farmers in this state like Don Emel who have stepped up to the plate and taken the lead. And as the filter strips they planted mature, the benefits to the Salem Watershed will multiply and be there for years to come. And finally, we are thankful to the many partners who have come together to make this program work for our farmers and for our state.”
Under CREP, landowners voluntarily remove pastureland or cropland along streams from agricultural production and convert the land to native grasses, trees and other vegetation to provide buffers. CREP pays landowners the cost to establish eligible conservation practices, annual rental payments to maintain the practices and, in most cases, incentive payments to sign up for the program. A landowner entering the Farmland Preservation or Green Acres Program who chooses to also participate in CREP may opt for either a rental agreement or a permanent CREP easement. The permanent easement provides for an additional payment on top of installation and rental payments.
Other eligible conservation practices under CREP are riparian buffers (trees and shrubs), filter strips (vegetative strips used to filter water) and contour grass strips.
“By compensating farmers who voluntarily undertake conservation practices, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program helps strengthen farm viability and enables farmers to expand their stewardship role in conserving our critical water resources,” said Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. “I encourage all farmers to explore the significant potential of this program to help protect our resources and strengthen the bottom line of their agricultural operations.”
New Jersey’s CREP program is sponsored by the Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service at the federal level, and by the N.J. Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection. A total of $77 million in federal funds and $23 million in state funds have been earmarked for the New Jersey program.
Landowners can obtain more information on CREP and other conservation programs from their local Farm Service Agency office and on the agency’s website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/cepd/crep.htm or the N.J. Department of Agriculture at (609) 292-5532.