BigNews.Biz - May 26,2012 - USDA Announces Results for Conservation Reserve Program General Sign-Up
Interest High in the 26-year-old Conservation Program
WASHINGTON, –Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will accept 3.9 million acres offered under the 43rd Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up. During the extended five-week signup, the Department received nearly 48,000 offers on more than 4.5 million acres of land, demonstrating the CRP’s continuing leadership as one of our nation’s most successful voluntary efforts to conserve land and improve our soil, water, air and wildlife habitat resources. Under Vilsack’s leadership, USDA has now enrolled nearly 12 million acres in the CRP since 2009. Currently, there are more than 29.6 million acres enrolled on more than 736,000 contracts.
“For more than 25 years, lands in CRP have helped to support strong incomes for our farmers and ranchers and produce good middle-class jobs throughout the country related to outdoor recreation, hunting, and fishing,” said Vilsack. “As the commodities produced by our farmers and ranchers continue to perform strongly in the marketplace—supporting 1 out of every 12 jobs here in the United States—it is no surprise that American producers also recognize the importance of protecting our nation’s most environmentally sensitive land by enrolling in CRP.”
Enrollment of the new 3.9 million acres will allow USDA to continue important targeting of CRP acres through continuous sign-up initiatives—including those announced earlier this year for highly-erodible land, as well as grasslands and wetlands—while also maintaining and enhancing the significant benefits that the program has already achieved. The two continuous sign-ups announced earlier this year will target an additional 1.75 million acres in total.
For the first continuous sign-up program, USDA encourages landowners with land that has an Erosion Index (EI) of 20 or greater to consider participating in the Highly Erodible Land initiative. Lands eligible for this program are typically the least productive land on the farm. In many cases the most cost-effective option to reduce erosion is to put the land into a wildlife friendly cover, which will improve habitat and reduce sediment and nutrient runoff and reduce wind erosion. For the second continuous sign-up program, landowners with sensitive grasslands, wetlands and wildlife habitat are encouraged to participate. The grasslands and wetlands initiative increases acres set aside for specific enrollments that benefit duck nesting habitat, upland birds, wetlands, and wildlife, and provides benefits for specific conservation practices, including new benefits for pollinator practices.
CRP is a voluntary program designed to help farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers protect their environmentally sensitive land. Eligible landowners receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland throughout the duration of 10 to 15 year contracts.
CRP has a 25-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation's natural resources through voluntary participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the United States. Under CRP, farmers and ranchers plant grasses and trees in crop fields and along streams or rivers. The plantings prevent soil and nutrients from washing