The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the largest acreage in history for its Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grassland Signup. Offers are being accepted on more than 3.1 million acres for this year’s Grassland CRP signup. The number represents a 22 percent increase over last year’s 2.5 million acres enrolled in the program. California agricultural producers and private landowners account for more than 18,000 acres of the total.
Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota were the states with the most acreage enrolled in Grassland CRP. States including Arizona and Utah had some of the largest increases in acreage. California was also among the states with a significant increase over last year, with enrolled acreage increasing 129 percent. The program allows producers and landowners to protect grasslands and improve biodiversity while also continuing grazing and haying practices. Enrolled grasslands help to improve resiliency to drought and wildfire while sequestering carbon in vegetation and soils.
“This year’s record-breaking Grassland CRP signup demonstrates the continued success and value of investments in voluntary, producer-led, working lands conservation programs,” State Executive Director in California, Blong Xiong said in a press release. “Grassland CRP clearly demonstrates, time and time again, that conservation priorities and agricultural productivity not only have the capacity to coexist but also complement and enhance one another. Through all our working land conservation programs, farmers and ranchers play a critical role in helping secure the future of both our food production and our natural resources.”
Altogether, producers have enrolled two million acres this year through the General Signup. More than 464,000 acres have also been submitted through the Continuous CRP Signup. Approximately 5.6 million acres will be centering CRP next year, which will surpass the 3.9 million acres that are set to expire at the end of 2022. Offers to participate in CRP through the Continuous CRP Signup can still be made. Producers can contact their local USDA Service Center for more information.