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Md. farmers offered cash to protect land

February 17, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening offered a $10 million incentive Thursday to encourage farmers to take environmentally sensitive farmland out of production.

Under the federal Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, farmers get paid to protect wetlands and areas around streams and rivers.

They can also get reimbursed for the costs of putting up fences and planting buffers next to streams.

"It's a very attractive thing," said Elmer Weibley, district manager for the Washington County Soil Conservation District.

More than 300 acres of farmland in the county are already in the program. The farmers are paid about $100 an acre for every year they don't farm the land, Weibley said.

Or landowners can sell permanent development rights for about $800 an acre, he said.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Ducks Unlimited.

The state will pay farmers a one-time $100-an-acre bonus for joining the program.

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"It is good for farmers, who have the opportunity to get value for the lands they are setting aside for the environment. It is great for the environment, because it helps create natural protective buffers that capture runoff and preserve our waterways," Glendening said in a press release.

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