Secretary Tom Vilsack has revealed that an additional 800,000 acres of highly environmentally sensitive land may be enrolled in CRP. Under certain wetland and wildlife initiatives owners may be eligible for multiple benefits on the same land. Sign-up for the program is scheduled for Dec. 1, 2015- Feb. 26, 2016. Current program participants whose contracts expire in Sept. 2015 will be offered a one-year extension. Farmers and ranchers who desire to plant grasses or trees for soil erosion, improve water quality and restore wildlife habitat on sensitive land currently in agriculture production are encouraged to enroll.
“For 30 years, the Conservation Reserve Program has supported farmers and ranchers as they continue to be good stewards of land and water. This initiative has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road,” said Vilsack. “This has been one of most successful conservation programs in the history of the country, and today’s announcement keeps that momentum moving forward.”
“CRP protects water quality and restores significant habitat for ducks, pheasants, turkey, quail, deer and other important wildlife. That spurs economic development like hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation and tourism all over rural America,” said Vilsack. “Today we’re allowing an additional 800,000 acres for duck nesting habitat and other wetland and wildlife habitat initiatives to be enrolled in the program.”
Vilsack encourages all farmers and ranchers to consider a CRP initiative that targets their specific resource concerns. “Financial assistance is offered for many practices including conservation buffers and pollinator habitat plantings, and initiatives such as the highly erodible lands, bottomland hardwood tree and longleaf pine, all of which are extremely important,” he says.
Farmers and ranchers may visit their FSA county office for additional information. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the enrollment of grasslands in CRP and information on grasslands enrollment will be available after the regulation is published later this summer.