The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that the general signup period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has been extended. The CRP general signup has previously been scheduled to end on February 12. Administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), the program provides payments for land devoted to conservation purposes. The extended signup period is being made available as the Biden administration evaluates methods for increasing enrollment.
“The Conservation Reserve Program provides a tremendous opportunity to address climate change both by retiring marginal cropland and by restoring grasslands, wetlands, and forests,” Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary, said in a press release. “CRP has a 35-year track record of success beyond just climate benefits, by providing income to producers, improving water quality, reducing erosion, and supporting wildlife habitat and the hunting and fishing opportunities that go along with it. By extending this signup period, we’ll have time to evaluate and implement changes to get this neglected program back on track.”
The CRP general signup provides a chance for producers to enroll land for the first time. Producers also have an opportunity for re-enrollment of lands under existing contracts set to expire on September 30. The program provides both conservation and economic benefits through taking land out of agricultural production. Producers will be able to adjust or resubmit their information before the CRP general signup period ends.
CRP has helped to sequester more than 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent through soils and plants. More than 2.3 million acres of wetlands have been restored through the program, protecting more than 177,000 stream miles. Over half a million acres of dedicated pollinator habitat and close to 15 million acres of forage plantings have been made possible through CRP. Nearly 450 million pounds of nitrogen was kept from reaching streams in 2020 alone.