The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the acceptance of more than 3.4 million acres into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) through the general signup which ended on February 28th. Encouraging news for agriculture, wildlife and water resources nationwide, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever acknowledges that USDA is well on its way to fulfilling an overall goal of 8 million acres this year to keep CRP at full enrollment levels.
“We’re encouraged by landowner demand for the general CRP signup despite the confusion and technical problems encountered during the first six weeks of the opportunity. These new acres will provide critical conservation and wildlife habitat benefits throughout the nation,” explained Jim Inglis, director of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever. “From our perspective, we still have 4.6 million acres available toward an overall 8-million-acre goal of full CRP enrollment by October 1st, 2020. Our attention now turns to enrolling acres into the Continuous and Grassland CRP practices, as well as the new Soil Health and Income Protection Program.”
“The Habitat Organization” is particularly pleased that the acceptance rate for this signup was 89 percent nationwide. Overall, it’s a win for wildlife and rural economies. However, the fact remains that with 5.3 million acres expiring this year, CRP lands throughout the United States have the potential to experience a net loss of acreage unless we keep pushing for enrollment opportunities through the fall months. Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever will be conducting a state-by-state analysis of enrolled/accepted general CRP acres in the coming days to ensure pheasant, quail and rural economic goals are being met nationally.
“It was encouraging that Secretary Perdue recently testified in front of the House Agriculture Committee in support of his goal to reach full CRP enrollment, and that he was amenable to an additional general signup this year if needed,” added Inglis. “America’s wildlife, hunters, farmers, ranchers and landowners need CRP more than ever right now.”
Important Notes for CRP Applicants:
- County offices will begin notifying producers with accepted general CRP offers no later than April 3. Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever will post state allocations as soon as they are available.
- This general signup included offers for State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), which allows producers to install practices that benefit high-priority, locally developed wildlife conservation objectives (pheasant and quail programs included). Over 95 percent of SAFE offers submitted were accepted under this general signup representing more than 487,500 acres.
- The 2018 Farm Bill established a nationwide acreage limit for CRP, with the total number of acres that may be enrolled capped at 24.5 million acres in 2020 and expanding to 27 million by 2023.
Other Conservation Program Considerations:
- The signup period deadline for CRP Grasslands – a program emphasizing grazing operations and plant and animal biodiversity – is May 15.
- The Soil Health and Income Protection Program signup begins March 30 and includes all counties within the Prairie Pothole region states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
- Later this spring, the Farm Service Agency will roll out a new pilot conservation program, the Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers 30 (CLEAR 30).
Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever Farm Bill biologists, housed with USDA Service Centers throughout the country in a unique partnership for helping deliver conservation programs to the nation’s farmers and landowners, are a great resource currently for questions regarding program enrollment. For more information, contact your nearest Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever Farm Bill biologist, or locate the nearest USDA Service Center.
About Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever
Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 138,000 members and 760 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent over $900 million on 550,000 habitat projects benefiting 19 million acres nationwide.