The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is partnering with conservation groups to highlight problems with grassland conversions to crop production in the Prairie Pothole Region.
The Fish and Wildlife Service announced the "Prairies Conservation Campaign" on Monday to note that grasslands and wetlands are being converted to crop production in the upper Plains states at levels not seen since the 1920s or 1930s.
The Prairie Pothole Region stretches from north-central Iowa up through parts of western Minnesota, eastern South Dakota and the eastern half of North Dakota on up through parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notes that the acres in the pothole wetlands provide critical wildlife habitat for migrating waterfowl and songbirds.
“More than 50 percent of North American migratory waterfowl depend upon the mix of wetlands and grasslands found in the prairie pothole region,” said Noreen Walsh, Regional Director for the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This area is called America’s ‘duck factory’ because it is the most productive area for nesting waterfowl on the continent, perhaps the world. These prairies and all the wildlife that they support are currently stressed by many factors acting together to threaten our natural heritage. By joining together as stewards, we can shed light on this problem and find solutions.”
The campaign will seek to work with landowners on conservation solutions to keep the wetlands and prairies from conversion to crops.
More information can be found at http://www.fws.gov/…
USDA Loan Information Available
USDA on Monday announced some changes from 2014 Farm Bill for the Farm Service Agency's loan programs.
According to USDA, the legislation expands some loan opportunities for farmers and ranchers that include:
Eliminating term limits for guaranteed operating loans.
Modifying the definition of a beginning farmer based on average farm size in the county rather than median farm size.
Offering a 2% lower interest rate on the Joint Financing Direct Farm Ownership interest rate with a floor of 2.5%, which is half the rate available previously.
Boosted the maximum loan amount for Direct Farm Ownership down payments from $225,000 to $300,000.
Allowing urban youth to apply for Youth Loans and changing the terms of debt forgiveness on those loans.
Increase the guarantees on conservation loans, which special boosts for socially disadvantaged producers and beginning farmers.
Lifting the loan limits so microloans are not counted for veterans or beginning farmers.
More information is available at www.FSA.gov.
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