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Program pays farmers who help prairie chickens

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 | 2:25 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — A new state-federal program will pay certain Missouri farmland owners to set aside land as habitat for prairie chickens, which once roamed the state’s prairies in large numbers.

The payments, over a 15-year contract, would come just as farmers struggle to get loans for next spring’s planting.

The birds are historic residents of Missouri grasslands, and they’re being managed for expansion in parts of the state. Today, fewer than 400 to 500 birds remain.

The program is a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Missouri Department of Conservation to create new nesting habitat from cropland and provide income to farmers.

Interested parties should call their local USDA Farm Service Agency. The program is limited to specific areas in 11 counties: Adair, Benton, Barton, Dade, Harrison, Jasper, Lawrence, Pettis, St. Clair, Sullivan and Vernon.

 


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