This is the 30th anniversary of the CRP. It’s a federal program that assists agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.
As of September 2015, 24.2 million acres were enrolled in CRP. CRP also is protecting more than 170,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers. That’s enough to go around the world 7 times.
The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture calls CRP one of the most successful conservation programs in the nation’s history saying it has helped farmers, ranchers, conservationists, hunters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts to set aside lands that otherwise might be put into production agriculture.
USDA, for its part, suggests when commodity prices are low, enrolling sensitive, low-quality and marginal lands in CRP can be especially attractive to farmers and ranchers, as it softens the economic hardship for landowners at the same time that it provides ecological benefits.
Contracts on 1.64 million acres of CRP are set to expire on Sept. 30, 2016. Producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP. The current enrollment period closes in February.