USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program promoting water quality in Puerto Rico
Through the CRP, Moises Velez-Santiago has planted hundreds of hardwood trees like mahogany, cedar and eucalyptus, which protect his farm’s watershed, provide a habitat for local wildlife and promote water quality for three municipalities that receive water flowing from his land.
“As a farmer, I have a great responsibility to produce healthy food and at the same time care for and protect the valuable resources of soil, air and water,” Velez-Santiago said. “CRP provides me with all the benefits to protect the environment, maintain natural resources and improve water quality.”
The CRP program started in December 1985 and serves as an incentive for farmers to create riparian buffers, or intentionally planted grasses and trees along rivers and streams. This has prevented the erosions of 9 billion tons of soil into over 170,000 stream miles, as well as protected 100,000 acres of trees, 300,000 acres of wetlands and 250,000 acres for bird habitats. Farmers enrolled in the CRP receive rental payments and cost-share assistance.