AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

More funding is available for California farmers and ranchers who voluntarily restore and enhance wetlands.

The U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service is receiving an additional $10-million for the "Wetlands Reserve Program" this year. The program compensates agricultural producers and other private landowners for land placed in conservation easements, and cost-share funding for restoring and enhancing wetlands.

Applications are due at local U.S.D.A. service centers by July 2nd. Over 250 private landowners in California have enrolled more than 100,000 acres of land into the program.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Obama Administration's new investments in rural America will help reverse the economic decline of small towns. He says new investments in broadband internet, biofuel plants, and small-scale farming will help create jobs in rural areas.

Vilsack says he's consistently heard complaints that small towns are losing population because they can't sustain economic growth. He laid out the administration's plan last week at a summit in Missouri.

The paper industry is planning to grow genetically altered Australian eucalyptus in seven southern states to see how far north the trees can grow.

Eucalyptus provides pulp for paper but it hasn't been able to tolerate cold weather.

Three paper companies have partnered with a biotech firm to develop a genetically engineered eucalyptus that withstands a freeze.Arbor-Gen has received U.S.D.A. approval to plant as many as 250,000 trees in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana.

Critics say the trees use too much water and could harm natural ecosystems.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.