The Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) is a reality for 2004. The U.S. Senate approved funding in December for the program aimed at keeping large grass landscapes intact for ranching operations and conservation priorities.

Jeff Eisenberg, executive director of the Public Lands Council, says GRP will provide an essential buffer against the loss of grasslands to a variety of sources.

Especially important to cattle producers, the new voluntary program imposes no regulations on grazing. The GRP will provide grassland owners with financial incentives to conserve and restore important grassland ecosystems, Eisenberg says. Eligible land includes restored, improved, or natural grassland, rangeland, pastureland and prairie. Common GRP practices include grazing management, prescribed burning, range seeding, fencing and brush management.

For more information on GRP and other conservation programs, contact your local USDA Service Center, or go to http://offices.usda.gov/. Information, including Federal Register notices and rules, is available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/farmbill/2002.