Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA 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 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.