Roger Bernard, Farm Journal Policy & Washington Editor
An additional 300,000 acres has been earmarked for conservation projects under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and a general signup for the long-running program will be held sometime later this year. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement in Des Moines, Iowa, this weekend.
The additional 300,000 acres of ground include:
- 150,000 acres for the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) Initiative;
- 50,000 acres for the Duck Nesting Habitat Initiative; and
- 100,000 acres for the Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds Initiative.
The above actions would raise the level of acres reserved for SAFE under CRP to 650,000 acres, with a total of 150,000 acres for the Duck Nesting Habitat Initiative and 350,000 acres for the Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds Initiative.
As for the general CRP signup, USDA said details and the specific signup start date will be announced upon completion of an Environmental Impact Statement.
"It is my goal to ensure that we maximize CRP enrollment - and holding a general CRP signup is an additional step we can take to enroll acres in this program," according to Vilsack.
The maximum level of acreage that can be enrolled in the CRP is 32 million acres as set by the 2008 Farm Bill. Currently, there are 31.19 million acres in CRP with contracts on 4.5 million acres of CRP ground to mature as of Sept. 30, 2010, with 4.4 million acres to expire from the program as of Sept. 30, 2011.