The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that the Grassland Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has doubled enrollment over last year. More than 2.5 million acres from agricultural producers and private landowners have been accepted in the 2021 Grassland CRP signup period. The latest enrollment figures bring the total up to more than 5.3 million acres across all CRP signups for 2021. Nearly four million acres were submitted by producers and landowners in the Grassland CRP, making 2021 the biggest year for submissions.
“This increased interest in working lands conservation serves two purposes,” Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency Zach Ducheneaux said in a news release. “It helps close the gap between enrollment and available acres, and it leaves room for the Administration to be innovative with the other conservation tools, such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, at our disposal as we work to enlist non-traditional partners in our conservation efforts.”
Producers and landowners have the opportunity to conserve grasslands, rangelands, and pastures through the Grassland CRP. At the same time, they retain the right to conduct common grazing practices on the enrolled lands. Conservation plans developed as part of the program are aimed at encouraging beneficial use to landowners while creating and maintaining vital habitats.
“Grasslands sequester an incredible amount of carbon in their roots that is resilient even during drought and wildfire, while also providing good wildlife habitat and grazing opportunities for producers and landowners,” said Ducheneaux. “This year, we rolled out improvements to Grassland CRP, including priority zones for elk migration and vulnerable soils, and we were pleased to see this level of interest from conservation-minded producers across the country. This is a powerful program, and we want to continue to grow interest in Grassland CRP as well as other CRP signups in the coming years.”