The farmer sign-up for the latest Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) began Dec. 1, and it ends on Feb. 26, 2016. This December marks the 30th anniversary of CRP, a federally funded program that assists agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.
As of September 2015, 24.2 million acres were enrolled in CRP. CRP also is protecting more than 170,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world 7 times.
"Over the past 30 years, farmers, ranchers, conservationists, hunters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts have made CRP one of the most successful conservation programs in the history of the country," said Secretary of Agriculture TomVilsack.
USDA suggests that when commodity prices are low, enrolling sensitive, low-quality and marginal lands in CRP “can be especially attractive to farmers and ranchers, as it softens the economic hardship for landowners at the same time that it provides ecological benefits.”
Will the volume of acres put into CRP and not planted have much impact on ag retailer sales is to be determined. Will contracts be renewed or some acres come out of CRP to be planted during 2016?
The Conservation Reserve Program was re-authorized by the 201. Farm Bill Contracts on 1.64 million acres of CRP are set to expire on Sept. 30, 2016. Producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.
USDA claims since it was established on Dec. 23, 1985, CRP has:
- 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 nearly 2.7 million acres of restored wetlands since 1996.
For more information FSA conservation programs information is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation.