WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is opening signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on December 9, 2019. The deadline for agricultural producers to sign up for general CRP is February 8, 2020, while signup for continuous CRP is ongoing.
The 2018 Farm Bill, which was signed into law in December 2018, includes Klobuchar’s provision to increase the number of acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to 27 million acres, based on Klobuchar and Senator John Thune’s (R-SD) Conservation Program Improvement Act.
The 2018 Farm Bill also includes conservation efforts led by Smith, including a provision from Smith’s SOIL Stewardship Act to expand efforts to reduce carbon emissions, prevent soil erosion, improve water quality and reform the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). It also includes Smith’s amendment streamlining the transition between two working lands conservation programs—the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and CSP.
“The Conservation Reserve Program provides important benefits to our state’s land and water, as well as economic benefits for our rural communities,” Klobuchar said. “That’s why I worked to increase the number of acres in CRP in the 2018 Farm Bill, so that farmers and landowners continue to have the tools necessary to conserve and improve soil, water quality, and wildlife habitat. I encourage farmers and landowners to visit their local Farm Service Agency office to enroll.”
“I fought for a spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee because I wanted to make sure Minnesota agriculture’s priorities, including strong farm programs like conservation, get the support they deserve,” Smith said. “Farmers and ranchers understand that the way they farm impacts water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat. The Conservation Reserve Program will help them boost conservation efforts that protect the environment and sustain their farms. I encourage Minnesotans to take advantage of this opportunity.”
The 2018 Farm Bill included several of Klobuchar’s priorities, including provisions to create an animal disease vaccine bank and disaster response program, provide more coverage and more flexible tools for dairy producers, and protect the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funding.
Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U.S. The program was originally primarily intended to control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. This Farm Bill program has evolved over the years, providing a variety of conservation and economic benefits from coast to coast. 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 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 7 times; and
• Benefited bees and other pollinators and increased populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and many other birds.
By enrolling in CRP, producers are improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and restoring habitat for wildlife. This in turn spurs hunting, fishing, recreation, tourism, and other economic development across rural America.
To enroll in CRP, contact your local FSA county office or visit fsa.usda.gov/crp. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.