Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the opportunity for producers to enroll a total of 1 million acres of land in a new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) initiative to preserve grasslands and wetlands.
Vilsack will highlight the announcement later today at the Interior Department during the White House Growing America's Outdoor Heritage and Economy conference, which emphasizes the link between conservation and strong local economies through tourism, outdoor recreation, and healthy lands, waters and wildlife.
Vilsack says that "With high crop prices, this approach to target our most sensitive lands is essential if we want to maintain the substantial benefits of CRP while ensuring that productive farm lands continue to produce the food and fiber Americans and the world needs."
Producers whose land qualifies for the program can enroll directly in this "continuous" category at any time, which is in contrast to the general sign-up for most CRP acres. Some of the changes brought on by the expansion will take place immediately and some will be initiated in the coming months. Vilsack outlines the following changes:
New Continuous Pollinator Practice (100,000 additional acres): A new continuous practice to permit producers to develop pollinator habitat for many pollinator species.
Increase Acreage for Wetland Restoration (200,000 additional acres): Two practices will expand that are designed to restore wetlands that are both within a 100-year floodplain and outside of a 100-year floodplain.
Restoration of Critical Grassland Ecosystems: This initiative targets areas that can restore important habitats to protect threatened and/or endangered species, candidate species, or species of significant social/economic importance. The restoration work would be done through the following existing practices and sub-initiatives:
- Increase Acreage for SAFE (400,000 additional acres)
- Increase Acreage for Duck Nesting Habitat (150,000 additional acres)
- Increase Acreage for Upland Bird Habitat Buffers (150,000 additional acres)
- Provide Greater Incentives for Continuous CRP (increases signing incentive payments to $150 per acre from $100 per acre)
More detailed information on CRP is available in the FSA fact sheet "Conservation Reserve Program, which can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov.