Federal Judge Blocks USDA From Opening More Conservation Reserve Land

NWF   |   July 29, 2008

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A U.S. District judge recently
issued a permanent injunction
against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)
program allowing widespread haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program
lands. Damage from these processes could cause harm to wildlife habitats and
water quality that lasts for years. P0772932287

The
injunction
allows those who have already applied to the program or who have
made farming decisions based on it to move forward, but forbids opening
additional Conservation Reserve Program lands. The decision reduces the number
of acres open to increased haying grazing from 24 million to less than 2
million.

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is America’s
largest private lands conservation program, covering nearly 35 million acres.
Farmers enrolled in the program help provide wildlife habitat, protect
wetlands, and keep more than 450 million tons of topsoil, pesticides,
herbicides and fertilizer out of rivers every year.

"USDA tried to turn one of America’s most important conservation programs into
a farm subsidy program, putting wildlife at risk throughout the country,” said
Tom France, Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s
Northern Rockies Natural Resource Center and lead counsel on the case. “[The]
ruling sends a clear message to USDA that it must follow the law in reviewing
potential harmful impacts to wildlife and habitat before it makes sweeping
decisions.”

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