On March 16, following the end of the first general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) since 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Services Agency (FSA) has now opened a sign-up period for the CRP Grasslands program.
Between March 16 and May 15, eligible landowners will be able to submit contract proposals to their local FSA office for consideration. As with the general CRP sign-up, the CRP Grasslands sign-up is a competitive process and all offers will be subject to an established ranking system. Awarded contracts will be valid for 10 or 15 years.
As part of one of the largest private land conservation programs offered by the USDA, the Grasslands program is designed to protect and conserve some of America’s most environmentally sensitive agricultural lands, including pastureland and rangeland. In exchange for annual rental payments and cost-share benefits, landowners install conservation practices on existing grasslands to benefit plant and animal biodiversity, soil and water quality, and wildlife habitat. Landowners and operators working under a CRP Grasslands contract also retain certain grazing rights, though the timing of grazing and haying operations may be limited to avoid disturbances during the nesting season for certain bird species.
The 2018 Farm Bill allocated two million acres specifically for CRP Grassland enrollment. Following closely on the heels of the general CRP sign-up, it is important for landowners and operators to be aware of availability of this and other conservation programs. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and our conservation partners are proud supporters of CRP and other private lands conservation programs that benefit soil health, water quality, and most importantly, wildlife habitat for the species that we passionately pursue. For more information on the CRP Grasslands program, visit the Farm Services Agency’s Factsheet or contact your local FSA office.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?