USDA Accepts Migratory Bird SAFE Offers
In early June, USDA decided which offers from the first round of the newly-established Migratory Bird, Butterfly, and Pollinator Habitat State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (Migratory Bird SAFE) practice would be accepted, resulting in 3,884 acres of playas and surrounding uplands accepted into the program. Within six weeks, from late February to the end of March, FSA received a total of 328 offers from landowners in Kansas and Nebraska, with the majority of those offers in Kansas.
“The landowner response in Kansas exceeded our expectations, with over 15,000 acres offered,” says Rod Winkler, director of conservation programs for Kansas Farm Service Agency (FSA). “Of the 10,000 acres allocated for Kansas, 37% have been approved. That’s 3,687 acres of playas that will soon be restored.”
The Migratory Bird SAFE was designed to provide private landowners an innovative, market-based financial incentive for restoring playas and planting a native grass upland buffer around the playa. Using a reverse auction, landowners submitted an offer for the amount they were willing to accept as an annual payment, for a period of 10-15 years, through the USDA Conservation Reserve Program. The offers that were not accepted in the first round will be carried over for consideration during the next round unless the landowner rescinds the offer. Landowners also have the option to revise their offer before the next ranking period.
Although a date has not been set for submitting new offers, Winkler encourages landowners who didn’t get accepted, as well as those who didn’t bid in the first round, to visit their local FSA office and talk to staff about how to make their offer more competitive.