Embrace The Land

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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.