$30 million will be invested in Mississippi watersheds this year according to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. 33 new projects and 40 existing projects to improve water quality in high priority watersheds are included in the project; these projects affect waters that flow into the Gulf of Mexico.
“By targeting small priority watersheds within the Mississippi River basin, we are helping to deliver local water quality benefits and contributing to large-scale improvements for the Basin as a whole,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Water quality is important to everyone, at all levels of government, to private landowners, and in rural and urban areas alike. The many partnerships created through this initiative are both impressive and promising to the future of these watersheds.”
These projects are funded through the NRCS’ Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI), which uses several 2014 Farm Bill conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), to help farmers adopt conservation systems to improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat, and restore wetlands. Since MRBI’s start in 2009, NRCS has worked with more than 600 partners and 5,000 farmers to make conservation improvements on more than 1 million acres in the region.
Through these partnerships, the initiative more than quadrupled the number of contracts addressing water quality concerns in targeted project areas. NRCS will invest $30 million per year over the next three years, as part of a $100 million commitment from the 2014 Farm Bill.