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Wetlands Reserve Program reaches 20-year milestone

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News Willmar,Minnesota 56201 http://www.wctrib.com/sites/all/themes/wctrib_theme/images/social_default_image.png
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Wetlands Reserve Program reaches 20-year milestone
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR — During the 20 years that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wetlands Reserve Program has been in existence, more than 11,000 landowners across the U.S. have participated in this voluntary program, restoring more than 2.6 million acres of wetlands habitat.

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By Wes Nelson

FSA executive director in Kandiyohi County

WILLMAR — During the 20 years that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wetlands Reserve Program has been in existence, more than 11,000 landowners across the U.S. have participated in this voluntary program, restoring more than 2.6 million acres of wetlands habitat.

Under the program, private landowners, working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, receive technical and financial assistance to voluntarily restore and protect wetland ecosystems. Landowners may select either a permanent or 30-year easement, while retaining ownership of the land once the easement is in place.

The Wetlands Reserve Program is best suited for frequently flooded agricultural lands, where the restoring of wetlands will maximize habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, while also improving water quality and reducing the risk of flooding nearby communities during severe weather events.

It’s been estimated that in the continental United States, more than half of the original 220 million acres of wetlands have been lost, and that 75 percent of the remaining wetlands are located on privately owned land. Therefore, the program specifically targets private landowners.

The majority of the Wetlands Reserve Program acres are located in five states. Those states include Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida and California.  

During the years of 1992 to 2011, Minnesota landowners have enrolled 115,357 acres into the Wetlands Reserve Program, involving 951 easement agreements.

Ag exports from Minn. set record high in 2011

According to figures recently released by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, our state’s agricultural exports set a record high of $6.8 billion in 2011, up $750 million or 13 percent above the previous year.

Minnesota’s top exported commodities — soybeans, corn, red meat, wheat, sugar, dairy and livestock feed — accounted for more than 80 percent of the state’s total agricultural exports in 2011.

Agriculture is Minnesota’s second-largest exporting sector, with major export markets in China, Mexico, Japan and Canada. Nationally, Minnesota ranks sixth in agricultural exports.

In terms of values, Minnesota’s top exported commodities in 2011 were as follows: soybeans - $1.6 billion; corn - $1.3 billion; pork - $740 million; wheat - $459 million; sugar and related products - $359 million; dairy - $218 million; livestock feed - $116 million; and beef - $111 million.

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, agricultural exports support more than 54,000 jobs in Minnesota, while also generating additional economic and business activity in many non-agricultural sectors.

FSA committee election results announced

Local Farm Service Agency offices recently tabulated the ballots that were returned for the 2012 county committee election. All election winners will begin serving three-year terms on Jan. 1.

In Chippewa County, Harvey Williamson of Montevideo was re-elected for a second term.

In Kandiyohi County, Stanley Wubben of Raymond was re-elected for a third term.

In Meeker County, LuVerne Becker Jr. of Eden Valley was elected to his first term.

In Pope County, Rick Davidson of Glenwood was re-elected for a third term.

In Renville County, Barb Melberg of Hector was re-elected for a second term.

In Swift County, Janet Saunders of Benson was re-elected for a second term.

In Yellow Medicine County, Allen Simonson of Canby was elected to his first term.

Nationwide, there are more than 7,800 farmers serving as county committee members. Committees typically consist of three to five members who are elected by local agricultural producers.

Committee members make many important decisions regarding the local administration of USDA’s commodity, price support, conservation and disaster assistance programs.

USDA to purchase $35M of turkey products

Officials from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service have announced that the agency intends to purchase up to $35 million of turkey products for distribution through a number of federal food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks.

The turkey industry consists of many vertically integrated companies that produce, process and market turkeys and turkey products.

Producers have been profitable at current whole turkey prices, but may be close to or even below their break-even price if feed prices remain at present levels. Meanwhile, producers who primarily produce turkey parts and processed products are finding that their cost of production exceeds the current selling price for their products.

The purchases should help mitigate any further declines in market prices, stabilize market conditions, and provide high-quality and nutritious food to the recipients of USDA’s nutrition programs.

The purchase price will be based on analyses of current market conditions, and all purchases will be of products produced and processed domestically. All purchases must also meet specified requirements to ensure quality, including specified limits on a product’s amount of fat, sugar and sodium.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.

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