Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton submitted a $795 million proposal in December to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) for the State. This Federal, State, and local partnership would work with farmers and other landowners across Minnesota to implement conservation practices on up to 100,000 acres of land to restore and protect water quality. Funding provided through CREP would provide additional financial support for farmers and landowners as Minnesota works to implement bipartisan buffer legislation enacted last session. “This CREP funding would help tremendously, as Minnesotans work together to be even better stewards of our land and water,” says Governor Dayton. “We have begun to reverse the serious deterioration in the quality of water in parts of our state. But much more remains to be done. This is everyone’s challenge and everyone’s responsibility.”
CREP is an offshoot of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the country’s largest private-land conservation program. Administered by the USDA-Farm Service Agency, CREP targets high-priority conservation issues identified by local, State, or Tribal governments or non-governmental organizations. The proposed Federal, State, and local partnership would voluntarily retire environmentally sensitive land by establishing conservation practices via payments to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural landowners.
Minnesota’s CREP proposal focuses on prioritized and targeted acres that would provide the greatest water quality and habitat benefits. It would fund the implementation of buffer filter strips, wetland restoration projects, and wellhead protection efforts. Bipartisan support at the Minnesota Legislature yielded $35 million last session for conservation efforts, which will provide part of the required State contribution necessary to leverage Federal CREP dollars.
Additionally, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council has recommended that Minnesota Legislators approve $20 million in Outdoor Heritage Fund in the upcoming session. More State matching funds will be considered by the Legislature in the upcoming session.