Working towards a 27-million-acre program cap in fiscal year 2023
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the acceptance of more than 2 million acres into the Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) general signup occurring earlier this year. The positive news will help stem the tide of the 3.4 million acres set to expire from contract on September 30. The Habitat Organization joins the USDA and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in encouraging producers and landowners to also consider the Grassland and Continuous CRP signups, both of which are currently open, to help meet a 27-million-acre program cap by the end of fiscal year 2023.
“Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever continue to work diligently to provide a suite of conservation options to landowners and producers to help achieve multiple land use goals including increased wildlife habitat, improved water quality, soil health benefits, climate resiliency measures and safeguarding robust rural economies,” said Jim Inglis, director of government affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “This is the first of several CRP signup options in 2022, and we look forward to working with USDA officials and congressional leadership to be a catalyst for the nation’s leading conservation program.”
Like other USDA conservation programs, CRP is a voluntary program that has a variety of options that can be tailored to the specific conservation issues of a state or region. The options run the gamut from working lands such as CRP Grasslands to partnerships with states and private entities to target a specific joint concern such as water quality or quantity, or particular wildlife species such as pheasants or quail.
“We recognize the Conservation Reserve Program is an important tool in helping mitigate climate change and conserve natural resources, and this announcement is just the first opportunity for producers to take advantage of the program,” Vilsack said. “Producers are still looking at options under the working lands Grassland Conservation Reserve Program, the more targeted buffer-type practices under Continuous CRP, and partnership opportunities through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). For farmers who have decided to return all or a portion of their land into production agriculture, USDA will also be reaching out to ensure they understand and can take advantage of options to either prepare the land for production or transition it to beginning farmers.”
Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever also acknowledge USDA for their support of the successful State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement initiative, as well as the re-opening of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in Michigan and South Dakota – an important step toward safeguarding water quality and wildlife habitat while providing critical access to the outdoors.
Producers have submitted offers on nearly 260,000 acres through the Continuous and CREP signups so far this year. The Grassland CRP signup – which last year had its highest participation ever – closes May 13, 2022.
For conservation program enrollment opportunities, producers and landowners are encouraged to contact their nearest USDA Service Center or partnership biologist.