Agriculture Department Opens CRP General Signup

Agriculture Department Opens CRP General Signup

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) would be open December 9 through February 28, 2020. This is the first general enrollment since 2016, and, due to expiring contracts and a 5 million acre increase in the 2018 Farm Bill (from 22 million acres to 27 million acres), there is an opportunity to enroll about 7 million acres in the program during this signup.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors and a critical tool to help producers better manage their operations while conserving natural resources,” Secretary Perdue said. “The program marks its 35-year anniversary in 2020, and we’re hoping to see one of our largest signups in many years.”

Originally intended to help control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production, CRP has become one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the country. According to USDA, the program has had significant conservation and economic benefits including:

  • Prevented more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;
  • Reduced nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively;
  • Sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road;
  • Created more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world 7 times; and
  • Benefited bees and other pollinators and increased populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and many other birds

“CRP signups heading into 2020 represent significant opportunities for landowners, wildlife, economic development in rural communities and the nation’s most pressing conservation needs,” stated Jim Inglis, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s director of governmental affairs. “Featuring new acreage allotments for each state and a variety of conservation practices, Conservation Reserve Program signups in 2020 and beyond will allow producers to target difficult to farm acres of low productivity which will ultimately provide wildlife habitat, create long term soil health and improve water quality, while maintaining productive agriculture on the best crop acres.

“We remain thankful to the farmers, ranchers, and landowners who take the time to implement high-quality conservation practices through CRP and we hope to utilize our 37-year history of helping USDA assist landowners to achieve their land use goals during this historic signup period,” Inglis concluded.

December 16, 2019