Since 1985, the Conservation Reserve Program has grown to be our nation’s most effective private land conservation tool. The CRP offers American farmers, ranchers, and landowners incentives to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and create wildlife habitat through a host of conservation measures. It also offers the dual benefits of financial certainty and environmental protection—locally and miles downstream.

From weather events that prevent planted acreage and affect harvest yields to trade disruptions that complicate risk management decisions, America’s strained breadbasket needs the security provided by the CRP now more than at any point in the program’s history

CRP is the greatest ally in preserving habitat for hunting and fishing on private lands. Add your name below to show your support for a stronger Conservation Reserve Program—because CRP works.

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The sportsmen’s community successfully raised the CRP’s acreage cap from 24 to 27 million acres over the life of the 2018 Farm Bill. But now, it’s time to get acreage enrolled.

In March 2020, the Farm Service Agency announced that 3.4 million acres had been accepted for enrollment during the December-to-February General sign-up period. Unfortunately, 5.4 million acres will expire by October 2020, leaving the program roughly 4.5 million acres below the 24.5-million-acre cap, with an additional 7 million acres to expire by October 2021. The growing acreage deficit raises alarms about the future health of the program, so ensuring landowner interest seems more pertinent than ever.

During a hearing before the House Agriculture Committee, USDA Secretary Perdue stated that the agency intends to hit its statutory acreage cap. To help achieve that goal, TRCP joined with 20 our partner organizations to ensure that more acres are enrolled than lost in the coming year.

The CRP’s ecological impact is visible: more than 170,000 miles of trees and grasses planted to protect downstream fish habitat; 440,000 acres devoted to pollinator recovery; and healthy populations of turkeys, quail, pheasants, deer, black bears, and others. It is no surprise then that many farmers, ranchers, and landowners provide access for hunters and anglers on these quality CRP acres.

Here is where the benefits of the CRP program become a bit more widespread and why the program is so important to communities throughout rural America. Every year, small towns see hotels and diners fill with hunters pursuing pheasants, waterfowl, and deer on CRP lands. Dollars spent on accommodations, food, licenses, ammunition, gas, and other costs directly benefit these local economies. There is real economic benefit to conserving these lands, demonstrating definitively that CRP works for agriculture, sportsmen, and wildlife alike.

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The Conservation Reserve Program was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan as a part of the 1985 Farm Bill. This popular program is regarded by many as the greatest private lands conservation initiative in modern U.S. history. The program compensates landowners who voluntarily enroll their land to conserve soil, water, and wildlife. By renting CRP acres from landowners and providing cost-share assistance for things like seeds, trees, and labor, the U.S. Department of Agriculture helps make it financially possible for America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to invest in conservation.

While CRP once supported almost 40 million acres of conservation areas, the 2014 Farm Bill cut the program to just 24 million acres. Acreage was gained in the 2018 Farm Bill, raising the cap to 27 million acres by 2023, but significant work lies ahead to ensure that the program is administered to maximize water quality, erosion prevention, and habitat health. 

We need a stronger CRP. Sportsmen and women have too much at stake—healthy habitat, abundant fish and wildlife, and access to quality places to hunt and fish—to let the program waver. Now it’s our turn to speak up. 

“A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.”
–Franklin D. Roosevelt

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