$62 million program arranged by federal and state agencies
for land conservation has been initiated in New York state
in the hopes of returning environmentally sensitive portions
of farmland to a fallow state.
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program was enacted last
Wednesday (Oct. 29), and will provide incentives for farm
owners to keep critical tracts of their land from being put
to agricultural use. By allowing land that meets certain CREP
criteria to lie fallow, the program hopes to achieve several
major land- conservation and pollution-reducing goals, including
the detoxification of local water and soil resources, which
have been particularly affected by animal waste.
Payments made to the landowners provide the incentive to take
part in CREP, explained Mark Dennis, spokesperson for the
Farm Service Agency. The payments will be based on the “soil
rental rate” of the affected land, which is determined by
its yield over time.
average rental rate is about $40 per acre,” said Dennis, “but
we’re going to provide around 145 percent of that as an incentive.”
The $62 million deal, which will finance the program through
2013, is underwritten by $10.4 million of state-sponsored
Environmental Protection Fund provisions, with the remaining
$52 million provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.
In order for farm owners to enroll their land in CREP, the
land must meet one of several qualifications, such as use
in agricultural production during the last six years or the
presence of a stream running through it. Farm owners whose
land meets these criteria can agree to set aside this land
from agricultural uses or development, and in turn receive
a payment significantly higher than the land’s assigned value.
In addition to the financial incentives, agencies involved
with the CREP will also provide services to farm owners whose
qualified CREP land is necessary to the maintenance of their
farm. Services might include the creation of alternate watering
facilities for land with free-running water, for example.
Isolating this type of land prevents farm animals from polluting
understand the limitations,” explained Dennis. “In this state,
the fields are smaller, so we want to make sure there’s enough
incentive to remove some of that land and enroll.”
facts released by the College Board show that average public
four-year college tuition and fees in New York state are increasing
well above the national average, according to an Oct. 31 article
in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The College Board’s data show that the national average public
college tuition and fees increase was 14 percent, while most
of New York’s public four-year colleges had increases averaging
22 percent. The largest rate of increase for New York was
at Binghamton University, with a rate of 24.1 percent. The
University at Albany’s tuition and fees increased by 19.8
The findings have caused the New York Public Interest Group
to call on Gov. Pataki to halt tuition increases and uphold
financial aid programs in his executive budget proposal.
skyrocketing cost of a public- college education in New York
is alarming,” said Miriam Kramer, higher education coordinator
for NYPIRG. “The continued increase in price is an assault
on the finances of New York’s students and their families.
Now is the time for the governor to pledge to college students
and their families that he will hold the line on tuition and
maintain financial aid programs.”
Even with the tuition increase, Kramer pointed out, there
is no surplus of money to benefit the students. The tuition
money has been used to make up the loss from a 15-percent
budget cut passed by the governor and the Legislature. “Basically,
the students are paying more, but the services are staying
the same or are decreasing,” said Kramer.
Dave Henahan, director of media relations for the State University
of New York, stated that due to the “unprecedented fiscal
crisis,” tuition had to increase to maintain SUNY’s operating
budget. Henahan also said that in spite of the tuition increase,
SUNY schools are seeing record enrollment. Preliminary data
taken in September, by SUNY, estimated that statewide enrollment
for the 2003-2004 school year exceeded its previous record
by 410,000 students.