Pheasants Forever Member Action Alert:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up generated record demand - more than 1.8 million acres in offers - but was only able to accept 23 percent of the 26,000 landowner applications because of the program’s current, federally-mandated 24 million acre cap. Across pheasant country, enrollments were exceedingly low. Pheasants Forever members can contact their U.S. representatives and urge them to follow the South Dakota congressional delegation’s lead in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that asks for reevaluation of the CRP general sign-up selection process.
Contact members of the U.S. Congress
Here is the latest from South Dakota regarding the recent CRP general sign-up:
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today urged U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to reevaluate the selection process for the general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-ups. The results of the 49th annual general CRP sign-up, which was conducted December 1, 2015, through February 26, 2016, were recently released, and although 727 South Dakota applications for more than 42,000 acres were submitted under the general CRP sign-up, only 101 acres were accepted by USDA.
“Drastically restricting the number of general CRP contract enrollment acres in our state removes the option for most expiring large landscape CRP contract acres from being reenrolled in CRP,” the delegation wrote. “And as a result, because they are denied the option to enroll in general CRP contracts, tens of thousands of acres of marginal land in expiring CRP contracts will be returned to crop production, resulting in higher costs to taxpayers due to increased commodity crop base acres and payments, and increased crop insurance subsidy and indemnity payments. In addition, South Dakota’s already shrinking grassland landscape will dwindle at an accelerated pace.”
Thune, Rounds, and Noem also requested that in the absence of a general CRP enrollment in South Dakota, USDA allocate sufficient continuous CRP acres in a timely manner when needed and requested.
While the delegation acknowledges that USDA has accepted more than 37,000 acres in continuous CRP practices effective at the beginning of 2017, they point out that large landscape contracts enrolled under general CRP sign-ups are critically important for reenrollment of expiring contracts and for maximizing CRP’s usefulness in South Dakota.
Full text of the letter can be found here
Photo credit: Steven Earley