U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week that USDA will open enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with higher payment rates, new incentives and a redefined focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation.

Established in 1985, CRP is considered one of the nation’s most successful private lands conservation programs. CRP is a voluntary program that provides a secure income stream to farmers, ranchers and other landowners as an incentive to establish long-term, grass and perennial conservation cover on their land. The program is an integral part of the safety net for rural America, financially and ecologically, and provides a wide range of wildlife, water quality and soil health benefits.

The land enrolled in CRP is vital for maintaining waterfowl populations and the wetland and grassland habitats on which they rely. These habitats include critical upland nesting cover for ducks in the Prairie Pothole Region, one of Ducks Unlimited’s (DU) highest priority areas. In times of drought and other emergencies, CRP has provided farmers and ranchers a “safety valve” for needed livestock feed and forage, including managed grazing and haying that can be compatible with conservation goals on the land.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is one of the most important tools in our conservation toolbox,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “We applaud Secretary Vilsack for recognizing the strong demand for the program, its high-value wetlands practices and creating the proper incentives to encourage enrollment. As private landowners seek to be the best possible stewards of their land, a healthy and robust CRP is an important option to get the most of their land while allowing waterfowl and other wildlife to thrive.”

The 2018 Farm Bill increased the acreage cap for CRP to 27 million acres nationwide by 2023. With 20.8 million acres currently enrolled, USDA announced its goal is to enroll 4 million new acres in CRP by raising rental payment rates and expanding the number of incentivized environmental practices allowed under the program.

To find out how you can sign up, visit https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/conservation-programs/conservation-reserve-program/index.

For more information, visit www.ducks.org, and be sure to Follow DU’s newest Twitter feed – @DUNews1937 – to get the most up-to-date news from Ducks Unlimited.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.