THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT GORE ANNOUNCES NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH STATE OF MICHIGAN
TO HELP FARMERS PROTECT LAND AND WATER QUALITY
Washington, DC--Vice President Al Gore today announced that the Administration has approved an agreement for a new partnership with the State of Michigan to protect 80,000 acres of fragile farm land and improve water quality in the connecting waterways between Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
"This partnership with family farmers in Michigan will help protect the environment and ensure safe drinking water for families," Vice President Gore said. "Farmers who voluntarily take steps to protect their private land deserve our support. Their efforts will pay dividends for years to come by ensuring a better, cleaner, environment."
The $177 million program is the latest announced by the Administration under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), which established similar federal-state partnerships in eleven other states. The agreement is now awaiting signature by the State of Michigan. The program will provide farmers incentives to voluntarily remove from production and improve environmentally sensitive lands along the Raisin River and other waterways in the Macatawa and Saginaw watersheds. Under the program, USDA and the State of Michigan will make annual rental payments and provide other financial incentives to farmers who agree to create streamside buffer zones or take other steps to control erosion and reduce polluted runoff on their private lands.
"This is a real win-win for American agriculture, it helps farmers and the environment," said Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman.
The Macatawa and Saginaw watersheds, together with Lake Huron and Lake Erie, supply drinking water to over one-third of Michigan's population. In addition to reducing runoff of soil sediment, nutrients and pesticides, the establishment of waterway buffers also will help lower water temperatures, increase dissolved oxygen and provide additional habitat for fish and wildlife.
USDA estimates that if the full 80,000 acres are enrolled in Michigan before CREP expires on December 31, 2002, the payments to Michigan farmers will be about $177 million. The federal government has committed $142 million to the project.
Additional information can be found at web site: www.fsa.usda.gov.
Sound from the Vice President is available on the White House Press Office Radio Actuality Line (202) 456-5671 # # #