FAQ: With low corn and soybean prices, more of the marginal land needs to be removed from crop production and put into USDA’s CRP program. Seeded to grass, the CRP land would protect against soil erosion and help improve water quality.USDA currently has a cap of 24 million acres in CRP, as specified in the 2014 Farm Bill. What will it take to raise that limit?
Answer: Hunters and anglers who agree that USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program works for wildlife, sportsmen and landowners can now show their support for enhancing the CRP program in the next federal farm bill. The current farm bill expires in 2018.
With the launch of CRPworks.org, a coalition of sportsmen’s groups including the National Deer Alliance, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is rallying conservation advocates who want to see better investments in the CRP.
Strong conservation support needed in next farm bill
“During the latest CRP signup, landowners who demonstrated an overwhelming demand for voluntary conservation practices under CRP were met with the lowest acceptance rates in the program’s 30-year history,” says Dave Nomsen, vice president of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.
He adds, “That’s why we’re calling for sportsmen and women to support strong conservation provisions in the farm bill, including a larger and more robust CRP authorization that meets the demand from farmers, ranchers and other landowners, who improve wildlife habitat and provide us with better recreational and access opportunities.”
USDA is turning down thousands of farmer CRP requests
Introduced in the 1985 Farm Bill, CRP once supported 37 million acres devoted to conserving soil, water and wildlife habitat. But Congress has reduced the size of the program to just 24 million acres in the most recent farm bill. Today USDA is turning down thousands of CRP applications from those who want to enroll millions of private acres in conservation.
The user-friendly website and advocacy app at CRPworks.org allows supporters to add their names to a petition asking lawmakers to reverse this trend, explaining that “without a strong CRP, the Northern Plains states would lose much of their duck breeding habitat, greater sage grouse in the West would be at greater risk of population decline, and brook trout would disappear from Eastern headwaters. Without CRP, 40 million sportsmen and women would lose access to private hunting and fishing grounds across rural America.”
Website offers educational resources on CRP program
Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO of the National Deer Alliance, says, “Deer hunters know that CRP works for wildlife and habitat; we've got the big buck stories to prove it so it's important that sportsmen and women call for better investments in CRP and become a part of the solution, well ahead of the next farm bill. This website makes that process very easy.” CRPworks.org also has educational resources on the benefits of CRP and the latest news about private land conservation. “CRP acres are often enrolled in access programs to provide public hunting and fishing opportunities on private lands, and where they’re not, CRP acres might provide critical wildlife habitat adjacent to the public lands that receive a lot of hunting pressure,” says Ariel Wiegard, ag and private lands policy director for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
Learn more about the issue; sign the petition online
“The CRP program has served as an important piece of landowners’ business plans and a vital part of working wild landscapes for 30 years,” she says. “The CRP deserves the attention of our lawmakers.” Learn more about game and fish species that benefit from the CRP program at blog.trcp.org/tag/crp-series/, and sign the petition at CRPworks.org.