Grassland reserves program
Radio interview source: Paul Goldsmith, District Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Throughout the nation, a lot of grassland is converted for other uses. It's become a real issue, especially in the western states, where available grazing land has declined. Some landowners convert pastures to row crops when commodity prices are high. The USDA has established the Grassland Reserve Program as a way to protect those areas.
Paul Goldsmith is a district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He says funding for the program is available nationwide for several types of land.
"Anything that's presently being used as grassland. It could be wildlife land, it could be grazing lands, which is the main part," says Goldsmith. "It could be hay land that you're using as hay ground. If you enroll under that program, you've got some choices that you can look at as a land owner."
One of those choices is doing a permanent easement. Goldsmith says the USDA will buy some of the rights from you as a land owner, and the area is required to remain a grassland forever, even if you sell the land. Another option is to set up a rental contract, which can be 10, 15, or 20-years in length.
Once a piece of ground is in the Grassland Reserve Program, the owner is responsible for maintaining it.
"As an example, if the particular piece of ground was pastureland, and it was pretty well managed pastureland, the land owner needs to maintain that level of management on it during that time period," says Goldsmith. "It's not a situation where say you enroll a pretty good pastureland, and you let it kind of go down, and you don't manage it as well, the intent is to maintain those functions and values that were there when it was enrolled."
You are required to meet adjusted gross income and conservation compliance. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Learn more about the Grassland Reserve Program and related conservation programs
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