WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Northeast Arkansas’ Little River Ditches Watershed has been named a priority watershed. By making the list, working lands within the watershed (one of only 18 such watersheds named to the country-wide list) will be eligible for new conservation benefits.

The priority status means farmers within the Little River Ditches Watershed are eligible for federal aid through the Conservation Security Program. The CSP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to promote the conservation and improvement of soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life, and other conservation purposes on private working lands.

Funding limitations for the CSP program (being run through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service) mean only 18 watersheds in the nation will be offered access to the program this year. The program provides equitable access to benefits to all producers, regardless of size of operation, crops produced, or geographic location.

Interested farmers should contact their local USDA service center or go to www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/farmbill/2002.

“The announcement of the Little River Ditches Watershed is a great step forward for farmers in and around Mississippi County,” says Rep. Marion Berry, who represents Arkansas’ first district. “The priority status awarded to the watershed will be a tremendous help to those farmers who are utilizing advanced methods bringing environmental benefits to working lands.”

Berry, a Democrat, says he’s “glad to see an environmental program come to Arkansas designed to achieve environmental benefits on lands already being used for production. It is my hope Arkansas farmers participating in this program will set an example and the program will expand in the future.”