The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the acceptance of 2.7 million acres into the Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) Grassland sign-up, selected from a record-setting 4.6 million acres in offers. When combined with the enrollment of over 1 million acres during CRP’s general sign up, the program will accomplish a net gain in total CRP acres for the third consecutive year.
“Grasslands are the heart of The Habitat Organization, and we’re pleased to share the news of another successful CRP sign-up,” said Jim Inglis, director of government affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “The record breaking number of acres offered is a great sign for grassland habitat everywhere, as the storied program continues to provide immense benefits for a wide array of wildlife on working lands.”
The sign-up news is especially meaningful in key upland bird states like Colorado (430,899 acres), Nebraska (417,865 acres), and South Dakota (325,443 acres), which saw the highest enrollment in the country during this sign-up. Once implemented, accepted offers in this trio of states will have immediate impacts for ring-necked pheasants, bobwhite quail, scaled quail, prairie chickens, and sharp-tailed grouse. Additionally, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are proud to employ staff in this region. In partnership with USDA, state wildlife agencies and others, these team members assist landowners in submitting and executing voluntary conservation practices from start to finish.
“This year’s Grassland CRP signup demonstrates the continued popularity, success and value of investments in voluntary, producer-led, working lands conservation programs,” said Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). “Grassland CRP clearly demonstrates that conservation priorities and agricultural productivity not only have the capacity to coexist but also complement and enhance one another. Through all our working land conservation programs, farmers and ranchers play a critical role in helping secure the future of both our food production and our natural resources. Interest in CRP Grasslands continue to grow and if it were not for the statutory cap, we would have had a record setting enrollment to pair with continued strong General and Continuous enrollment this year.”
Grassland CRP leverages working lands practices to improve biodiversity and conserve environmentally sensitive land. To target conservation in key geographies, USDA prioritizes land within two National Priority Zones: the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Dust Bowl area. Building upon the nearly 2.4 million acres already in the Priority Zones, this year’s more than 900,000 acres continues to robustly demonstrate that producers in these areas recognize the keen conservation value of Grassland CRP. Land enrolled in these zones will contribute to broader USDA conservation efforts through Working Lands for Wildlife by conserving working grasslands and other lands that underpin iconic big game migrations.
Grasslands enrolled in CRP help sequester carbon in vegetation and soil, while enhancing resilience to drought and wildfire. Meanwhile, producers can still conduct common grazing practices, such as haying or harvesting seed from the enrolled land, which supports agricultural production.
Additionally, USDA has accepted more than 1 million acres through the General signup, and more than 465,800 acres have been submitted through the Continuous CRP signup so far this year, on pace to be similar to last year’s nearly 900,000-acre enrollment.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever encourage landowners who are interested in CRP, or any other conservation program, to visit their local USDA service center and connect with a Farm Bill biologist. The organization’s technical assistance team helps find the right tool to address any conservation need, and Grassland CRP is just one of numerous critical programs that landowners have at their disposal.
About Pheasants Forever
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever make up the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. This community of more than 400,000 members, supporters and partners is dedicated to the protection of our uplands through habitat improvement, public access, education and advocacy. A network of 754 local chapters spread across North America determine how 100 percent of their locally raised funds are spent — the only national conservation organization that operates through this grassroots structure. Since its creation in 1982, the organization has dedicated more than $1 billion to 575,000 habitat projects benefiting 24 million acres.