USDA has selected 75 projects in 12 states to help landowners and producers within the Mississippi River Basin voluntarily implement conservation and management practices that prevent, control and trap nutrient runoff from agricultural land.

“USDA is working aggressively to improve the health of the Mississippi River Basin,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The funding announced today will help producers implement a system of conservation practices that will control soil erosion, improve soil quality, and provide wildlife habitat.”

Under the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide technical assistance and a total of $30 million of financial assistance during federal fiscal 2010 for projects in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

More than $22 million in Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) funds will be administered through the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program. Nearly $8 million will be provided in Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program funds. Partner organizations will contribute additional financial resources.

These multi-year watershed projects were selected through a competitive process. A listing of the projects by state, and additional information about the MRBI, are available at: www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/mrbi_overview.html.

The MRBI will help NRCS and its partners expand their capacity to improve water quality throughout the basin. CCPI will use a conservation systems approach to manage nitrogen and phosphorous, which will minimize runoff and reduce downstream nutrient loading. WREP will encourage strategic placement of wetland restoration projects.