August 30, 2021

USDA Announces Acceptance Rates for Conservation Reserve Program Following Program Changes Announced Earlier This Year


Why It Matters: The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has historically been one of the most successful voluntary private lands conservation programs in our nation’s history. Down from a high enrollment of 36.7 million acres in 2007, CRP has seen recent changes made by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that are designed to increase interest in the program. Recognizing the important benefits that participation in CRP provides for wildlife, efforts to address the impacts of climate change, and the overall profitability and resiliency for participating landowners, it is important that the program is fully enrolled to maximize these benefits.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that 2.8 million acres have been accepted into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) thus far in 2021. Of these 2.8 million acres, 1.9 million were accepted through the General CRP Signup that began in January but was extended until last month as the Administration explored options to increase interest in the program. Another nearly 897,000 acres were accepted through the continuous CRP signup that persists on a rolling basis. USDA remains confident that changes to CRP announced earlier this year will further boost enrollment in the program in coming signup periods.

The Conservation Reserve Program provides landowners with rental payments in exchange for the voluntary conversion of lands used for production agriculture to alternative, conservation focused practices. For sportsmen and women, acres enrolled in CRP can provide quality habitat for game and nongame species in otherwise fragmented landscapes. In fact, during a recent webinar hosted by CSF, Jim Inglis, Pheasants Forever’s Director of Government Affairs, highlighted data that showed a clear link between CRP enrollment, game bird populations, and hunter participation rates.

This announcement comes just one month before 3 million acres of CRP are set to expire at the end of FY21. USDA expects that the recently closed CRP Grasslands Signup, coupled with ongoing Continuous CRP opportunities, will more than offset these expiring acres, moving the program closer to its acreage cap of 25.5 million acres in 2022 as established by Congress through the 2018 Farm Bill. For more information on the Conservation Reserve Program, click here.

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?

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