USDA’s commitment to conservation was shown recently when Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the first general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in more than four years. Secretary Vilsack has told Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess that he expects the agency to keep enrollment near the limit set in legislation to maximize the benefits from the program. FSA’s mission is to enroll approximately 4.5 million acres in the current general sign up in order to keep the total CRP enrollment close to 32 million acres. However, the general sign up ends this Friday, Aug. 27, so FSA is making a last-minute appeal to all prospective participants to contact their county offices to complete their sign ups before time runs out.
Administrator Coppess acknowledged several non-government organizations (NGOs) which have been instrumental in sharing information about the sign up and encouraging landowners to examine the benefits of CRP. Among those Coppess thanked were Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited, whose patrons have seen significant wildlife expansion in large part because of continual habitat improvements as a result of CRP. Working in concert with the NGOs, FSA reports a 22 percent increase in ringed-neck pheasant populations and a net average increase of about two million ducks per year.
Other benefits CRP offers the environment include nearly 200 million tons of annual sediment reductions, 600 million pounds of nitrogen reduction and nearly 400 million tons of reduced soil erosion. Further, CRP is credited with reducing greenhouse gases by approximately 55-60 million metric tons each year. To find out more about CRP, contact your local FSA office or click here.