The USDA made an announcement this week on its latest conservation efforts. The agency disclosed an additional 500,000 acres can now be enrolled into its Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for grassland.
At the Executive Women in Agriculture conference in Chicago, Il., USDA deputy undersecretary Alexis Taylor said the grasslands program was given as an authority of the 2014 farm bill that shifts to a “working lands-type concept” for the CRP.
The additional qualifying acres will be authorized in the latest farm bill.
“The farm bill gave us a 2 million acre cap,” said Taylor. “Last year, because we were so close to the overall 24 million cap, we were only able to enroll 100,000 acres, but there was a lot of demand – over a million acres [were offered to] go into the grasslands program.”
Taylor said the grasslands portion of the CRP is designed to diversify the program, including water quality benefits, wildlife and pollinator habitats, and pairs economic benefits for farmers with environmental benefits.
The USDA is answering the needs of producers, according to Taylor, with farmer interest in CRP gaining strength because of the downturn of the ag economy.
“Margins are tight,” said Taylor. “This gives them an additional economic incentive while doing some good conservation practices.”
If you’re interested, sign-ups are happening at your local FSA office.