Conservation Reserve Program signup deadline nears


Staff Reports

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds agricultural producers interested in the 2020 Conservation Reserve Program that the general signup enrollment deadline is Friday.

This signup is available to farmers and private landowners who are either enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling for another 10- to 15-year term.

Farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.

The program has 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill lifted the cap to 27 million acres.

Signed into law in 1985, the program is one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the United States. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits.

Marking its 35th anniversary in 2020, CRP has had many successes, including:

Preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks

Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85%, respectively

Sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road

Creating 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 seven times

Benefiting bees and other pollinators and increased populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and many other birds

The signup is ongoing, which enables producers to enroll for certain practices. Farm Service Agency plans to open the Soil Health and Income Protection Program, a CRP pilot program, in early 2020, and the 2020 CRP Grasslands signup runs from March 16 to May 15.

To enroll in CRP, contact the Jackson County FSA office at 812-358-2367 or visit the office at 102 E. Commerce St., Brownstown.

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