Pheasants Forever pushing for more acres nationally, 2018 Farm Bill could provide relief
St. Paul, Minn. – June 5, 2018 – Reopened this week to the benefit of soil, water, and wildlife nationwide, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has resumed acceptance of applications for the continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for the first time in over a year. Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can sign-up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office between now and Aug. 17, 2018.
“We thank Secretary Perdue for making these practices available and recognize he and the team at USDA will be watching the signup process closely due to the 24 million-acre cap that cannot be exceeded,” stated Jim Inglis, director of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever. “However, we would like to see the full suite of continuous conservation practices opened as soon as possible; we’re especially concerned about not having State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement or Upland Quail Buffers open for enrollment. Having all CRP options available, including a future general CRP signup, would maximize benefits for wildlife habitat while providing the necessary tools for landowners to manage for healthy soil and water.”
FSA halted new CRP contracts just over a year ago after the acreage cap – set at 24 million acres by the 2014 Farm Bill – was reached. With nearly 22.7 million acres currently enrolled in the program, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever urge interested landowners to apply quickly due to the demand for voluntary conservation practices witnessed in 2017. “Even with popular practices closed for enrollment such as SAFE or Bobwhite Buffers which target specific upland birds, we anticipate landowner interest will be quite high,” added Inglis.
Pheasants Forever is working harder than ever to ensure wildlife habitat is a priority of the 2018 Farm Bill. Currently, the House version of the Farm Bill expands the program from 24 million acres to 29 million acres – great news for landowners and upland hunters. The Senate is working on their draft language that is slated to be reviewed in committee with a potential vote on the Senate floor by end of June. “The Habitat Organization” will provide updates and action alerts as things progress for the 2018 Farm Bill in the weeks to come.
Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment: June 4 – August 17, 2018
- Eligible continuous CRP practices for the allotted sign-up period include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others listed here.
- The CRP Grasslands is available to landowners. To guarantee all CRP grasslands offers are treated equally, applicants who previously applied will be asked to reapply using the new ranking criteria.
- Producers with pending applications will receive a letter providing the options.
- USDA will offer a one-year extension to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter with more information.
- Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can sign-up at their local Farm Service Agency office between now and Aug. 17, 2018.
About Pheasants Forever
Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 145,000 members and 720 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $784 million on 530,000 habitat projects benefiting 17 million acres nationwide.