USDA Provides Money for Public Access to Land


Yesterday Northern Ag Network took part in a media conference call with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess, Jeff Vonk with the SD Department of Game, Fish and Parks and a panel of others 

The rather large group had been assembled for the official unveiling of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program. 

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack gave some of the specifics.

The Secretary told us that currently 26 states have such programs in place that compensate landowners financially for allowing public access.

Johnathon Coppess with the FSA talked on the technical side.

With 77{4d08edaf359bc2115b18a651716ebd427a137946ddca2143fa23b3ea721061e4} of America’s hunting currently happening on private lands, its obvious that a majority of producers are already allowing the public to recreate on their land.  Northern Ag Network reminded the panel of that and then asked how, when we’re putting money towards getting more of that land open, we can also educate the public that may come in to protect the landowners and their land.

We were surprised when every member on the panel – a rare occurrence during these conference calls – spoke up to answer our concern. 

That included Jeff Vonk with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.

In also following up on the question, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told me that as part of the criteria for the application process, they will likely also emphasize the need for an education component to respect that access.

As Vilsack and Coppess stated in the audio above, the money is available to state and tribal governments and will be dispersed via competitive grants.  Applications for grant funding may be made through the federal government’s grants portal –

For more information on VPA-HIP and other FSA programs, visit


© Northern Ag Network 2010

Haylie Shipp



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