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Conservation plan pays farmers

Farmers who wish to sign up for a federal program that pays them to use conservation practices need to apply by Friday, March 2.

The Conservation Stewardship Program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture pays farmers to use cover crops, buffer strips and ecologically-based pest management, as well as for maintaining pollinator and beneficial insect habitat. The government maintains the program benefits farm resources while improving water, air quality and wildlife habitat.

Meanwhile, farmers can continue to grow crops. The program encourages farming with new techniques and technologies such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program are accepted year round. However, applications for this funding period must be received by March 2. The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in this program in 2018.

Farmers can benefit from the program by seeing improved cattle gains per acre, increased crop yields, lower inputs, and better resilience to weather extremes.

The program has been updated to help farmers better evaluate conservation options and benefits.

For more information, visit the USDA service center at 900 Robert St., Suite 102 in Alexandria, call 320-763-3191, ext. 3 or visit