By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
Certain counties in Alabama will receive funding in order to help control feral swine populations that are hurting agriculture, ecosystem and human and animal health.
Alabama will receive $3.7 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture under their 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).
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell said he was happy to see the state receive the funding.
“We are very pleased to see additional resources being allocated to combat agricultural damage caused by feral swine,” said Parnell. “Increased federal funding for control efforts has been a priority for the Federation and this, in addition to increased funding through the annual appropriations process, will go a long way to support our farmers as they manage feral swine.”
Alabama pilot projects included in the last three years select watersheds in Baldwin, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Sumter counties.
Federation Wildlife Division Director William Green thanked USDA’s Fish and Wildlife Service for helping secure funding for Alabama, citing millions of dollars in damage caused by the hogs, which reproduce quickly.
“Feral hogs damage forests, cattle range, and fruit and vegetable operations, as well as row crop acreage,” Green said. “No aspect of agriculture is exempt from feral swine destruction.”
ALFA’s press release said that studies show two mature hogs can reproduce to yield 30 hogs in as little as 8 months. Feral swine have been sighted in all 67 counties in Alabama.
NRCS and APHIS are working with the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee on three projects to notably reduce environmental and economic damage from wild pig rooting.
They damage ecosystems and compete with native wildlife for habitat and food. Additionally, wild hogs degrade water quality and pose a serious disease threat to livestock and humans.
“Feral swine are the cause of significant damage to crops and grazing lands, while also impacting the health of our natural resources,” said NRCS State Conservationist Ben Malone. “By collaborating with our partners nationally and here in Alabama, our hope is to control this invasive species — improving operations for farmers while also protecting our natural resources for the future.”
Other pilot project states include Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
The 2018 Farm Bill provides $75 million for the FSCP over the life of the farm bill.
You can learn more about the USDA’s feral swine eradication and control project HERE.