U.S. Department of Agriculture Moves to Boost Private Lands Conservation


Farmers and ranchers have more time to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program

(Washington D.C.)—Heeding calls from the hunting and fishing community, the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced it’s extending enrollment for the Conservation Reserve Program—the nation’s most successful private lands conservation initiative.

Since 1985, the Conservation Reserve Program has offered incentives for American farmers, ranchers, and landowners to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and create wildlife habitat. The current enrollment period for general signup was set to expire on February 12, but the USDA has announced it will be extending that deadline to “evaluate and implement changes.”

“Getting more landowners signed up for the Conservation Reserve Program will improve soil, water, and habitat health,” said Andrew Earl, director of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s private lands program. “Increased enrollment also benefits sportsmen and sportswomen who hunt and fish on private land, while providing economic support for farmers and ranchers. Further, the Conservation Reserve Program is an important tool in our toolbox of land- and water-based solutions to climate change.”

CRP has helped restore more than 2.3 million acres of wetlands and set aside land that has sequestered more than 12 million metric tons of carbon. Despite these notable successes, enrollment in the program has been dwindling.

The program is currently at a three-decade low of 20.7 million acres enrolled. Just two years ago, Congress increased the program’s acreage cap from 24 to 27 million acres in response to rampant landowner interest. However, in the time since, significant changes to rental rate formulas and incentive reductions have diminished the attractiveness of the program.

The TRCP has been raising alarms about the weakening of the CRP over the past few years and has laid out a plan to strengthen the program moving forward.

Visit the TRCP’s interactive model farm to see how the CRP and other Farm Bill conservation programs make an impact for wildlife habitat, soil and water quality, and sportsmen’s access.

Founded in 2002, the TRCP is the largest coalition of conservation organizations in the country, uniting and amplifying the voices of sportsmen and women by convening hunting and fishing groups, conservation organizations, and outdoor businesses to a common purpose.