As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) through its Farm Service Agency (FSA).
“The Conservation Reserve Program is an important component of the suite of voluntary conservation programs USDA makes available to agricultural producers, benefiting both the land and wildlife,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “I often hear firsthand how popular CRP is for our recreational sector; hunters, fishermen, conservationists and bird watchers.
“CRP also is a powerful tool to encourage agricultural producers to set aside unproductive, marginal lands that should not be farmed to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and boost soil health.”
FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous signup (excluding applications for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP grasslands). This pause allowed USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding the 9.71 million hectares (24 million-acre) CRP cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill.
New limited practice availability and short sign up period helps ensure that landowners with the most sensitive acreage will enroll in the program and avoid unintended competition with new and beginning farmers seeking leases. CRP enrollment currently is about 9.2 million hectares (22.7 million acres).
Source: United States Department of Agriculture and Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment