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FSA allocates an additional 400,000 acres for SAFE

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[May 10, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- The USDA Farm Service Agency in Illinois has announced that FSA has allocated an additional 400,000 acres nationwide to the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement program, or SAFE, which improves habitat for high-priority wildlife species.

"SAFE is a voluntary conservation initiative that provides an opportunity for grass-roots conservation partners to develop related projects to address high-priority wildlife needs through habitat restoration," said Scherrie V. Giamanco, FSA state executive director.

SAFE project area proposals are being accepted for the purpose of improving habitats for the designated wildlife species in new areas as well as possibly expanding current project areas by requesting additional acreage. Project sponsors must submit all proposals as soon as possible, but no later than the May 15, as the State Technical Committee is scheduled to complete the proposal review process May 15-18.

The Illinois FSA State Committee will complete the final review and submit recommended proposals to the national FSA office for final evaluation no later than June 1.

Various conservation practices currently offered under the Conservation Reserve Program are fine-tuned through the SAFE proposal to improve, connect or create higher-quality wildlife habitats by promoting healthier ecosystems in the project areas identified as essential to the effective management of high-priority wildlife species.

Giamanco added, "Once a project proposal is approved and acreage allocated, the SAFE program is implemented through a continuous CRP signup, allowing USDA to accept producer acreage offers year-round."

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As with other Conservation Reserve Program initiatives, the land and producer must meet certain eligibility requirements. Once approval of the SAFE project is announced, interested landowners can submit offers to voluntarily enroll qualifying acres in a SAFE project and CRP contract for a term of 10 to 15 years. In exchange, SAFE-CRP program participants receive annual rental payments, project incentives and cost-share assistance to establish habitat-enhancing natural covers on eligible land.

According to Giamanco, Illinois currently has 12,600 acres across the state enrolled in existing SAFE program project areas.

For additional details on SAFE project areas, including the format to submit proposals, visit and click on "Conservation Programs" or email questions to or  at the Illinois FSA office.

[Text from file received from Illinois Farm Service Agency]

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