"Feral swine cause significant damage to crops and grazing lands, while also impacting the health of our natural resources."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced November 21 it is awarding $1.5 million to fund a pilot project to control feral swine in Louisiana and nine other states across the country.

These projects are part of the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program (FSCP) – a joint effort between USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to help address the threat that feral swine pose to agriculture, ecosystems and human and animal health.

"Feral swine cause significant damage to crops and grazing lands, while also impacting the health of our natural resources," said Tim Landreneau, NRCS acting state conservationist in Louisiana. "By collaborating with our partners nationally and here in Louisiana, our hope is to control and eradicate this invasive species – improving operations for farmers while also protecting our natural resources for the future."

NRCS and APHIS are working with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry on a pilot project in Louisiana to reduce feral swine populations in three pilot locations where local Soil and Water Conservation Districts have taken initial steps.

NRCS, APHIS and the Louisiana State Technical Agriculture Committee worked together to define the critical areas to be considered for projects within the state. The Louisiana pilot project will run for a three year duration. After the Announcement for Program Funding advertised the opportunity for non-federal entities to partner with NRCS in this endeavor, a technical team was set up to review and prioritize applications received. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry application provided the necessary match and capabilities needed to work with the Gulf Coast Soil and Water Soil Conservation District (in southwest LA), the Natchitoches, Dugdemona, Red River, Grant, and Rapides Soil and Water Conservation Districts (in central LA), and the Madison, and Tensas-Concordia Soil and Water Conservation Districts (in eastern LA). Technicians with surveillance and trapping techniques will follow APHIS Wildlife Services' operational lead for the specific purpose of building local coalitions and a coordinated effort to reduce feral swine populations on agricultural lands.

NRCS is awarding more than $16.7 million this year for feral swine pilot projects in select areas of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. The funding limit for a single award is $1.5 million. Awardees are required to provide at least 25 percent of the partnership agreement budget as a match to NRCS funding. APHIS is providing $23.3 million this year to the Wildlife Services programs located in the pilot projects states.

The 2018 Farm Bill provides $75 million for the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. These funds are for the life of the farm bill and divided evenly between NRCS and APHIS.

Additional information on NRCS’ feral swine control work can be found at http://nrcs.usda.gov/fscp.

Contributed by Louisiana Press Association