Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Monday 02/18/13

Despite Sequestration, USDA Announces New CRP Signup

While appearing to wreak havoc on USDA's ability to provide a number of services, the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration coming in March won't prevent USDA from holding a new enrollment period for the Conservation Reserve Program.

At the annual Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic over the weekend in Minnesota, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA will have a new enrollment period for CRP from May 20 until June 14. The pheasant and quail hunting show has become a traditional spot for Vilsack to announce a new CRP enrollment.

“Since the 1980s, the CRP program has established itself as a benchmark in voluntary conservation efforts, providing American producers with assets to address our most critical resource issues,” Vilsack said in a news release. “Last year, during one of the worst droughts in generations, the CRP proved vital in protecting our most environmentally sensitive lands from erosion. Emergency haying and grazing on CRP lands also supplied critical feed and forage for livestock producers due to the drought. And the program continues to bring substantial returns to rural areas, attracting recreation and tourism dollars into local economies while sustaining natural and wildlife habitat for future generations.”

Contracts on about 3.3 million acres will expire this fall. CRP now has 27 million acres, one of its lowest acreage levels since the program began after the 1985 farm bill.

Vilsack added that additional sign-ups for continuous CRP programs will be announced later this spring for programs such as the Highly Erodible Land Initiative and Initiative to Restore Grasslands, Wetlands and Wildlife.

USDA noted producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.

As USDA stated, landowners who are accepted in the sign-up can receive cost-share assistance to plant long-term, resource-conserving covers and receive an annual rental payment for the length of the contract (10-15 years). Producers also are encouraged to look into CRP’s other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, non-competitive, sign-up basis and that often provide additional financial assistance. Continuous sign-up dates will be announced at a later date.

Highlights of CRP include:

CRP has restored more than two million acres of wetlands and two million acres of riparian buffers;

Each year, CRP keeps more than 600 million pounds of nitrogen and more than 100 million pounds of phosphorous from flowing into our nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes.

CRP provides $1.8 billion annually to landowners—dollars that make their way into local economies, supporting small businesses and creating jobs; and

CRP is the largest private lands carbon sequestration program in the country. By placing vulnerable cropland into conservation, CRP sequesters carbon in plants and soil, and reduces both fuel and fertilizer usage. In 2012, CRP resulted in carbon sequestration equal to taking about nine million cars off the road.

I can be found on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 8:58AM CST 02/18/13 by Chris Clayton
Comments (6)
Wow! Look at how strong the hunting lobby is. One thing is for sure they are united and strong. If these groups were truly about ducks, pheasants or geese they woundn't be promoting shooting them. Licenses are issued for population control meaning they are over populated. Instead of promoting drainage and irrigation that would lessen future disasters this is what they come up with; SUBSIDIZED RECREATIONAL HUNTING! Now the ag buget has become the US Fish and Wildlife budget along with other non-profit hunting groups budget. I thought they had there own budget, what happened?
Posted by Young Farmer at 8:16PM CST 02/18/13
Let's pull the plug on all ag programs including crop insurance and ethanol quotas-subsidies. Let the chips fall where they may.
Posted by gregory schimkat at 8:41PM CST 02/18/13
Excellent point, Young Farmer. Not that I disagree in general, Gregory, just a point- Pull the plug on ag-programs and 80% of the Food Bill will remain intact. Consequently the tax payer would be supplementing food to millions of people without a food safety program. The savings would not even offset the proposed increase in government spending. Sequestration will not amount to a drop in a growing rain barrel.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 6:17AM CST 02/19/13
Young Farmer,you better wake up and realize not all land is to be farmed.If we don't take care of our water and land ourselves we won't be farming it in the future.I live and farm in the Lake Erie watershed and this nitrate runoff issue is just starting.This is the where CRP has it's place,we have several acres in use and it is there for conservation not hunting.You guys that think you need to farm fencerow to fencerow will someday see that some land, GOD did not intend to farm.When we are back to 3.50 -4.00 corn the goverment programs will look very good to you.
Posted by Raymond Simpkins at 6:52AM CST 02/19/13
Why is this released at a Pheasant Fest and Qual Classic then? I have no doubt it has some places but when I see cropland taken out of production when it can be used to feed and fuel the world and stabalize the new industries that as taxpayers we have invested in. We have the tech to bring this land into production with new drainage systems, notill and low use irrigation. I don't see any programs out there promoting a systematic approach. Don't forget the wildlife is also eating our crops in which I don't have a problem with if we can make our cropland the best it can be. It's all about a total systems approach.
Posted by Young Farmer at 7:43AM CST 02/19/13
If all cropland was put back into production how long do you think it would take to be back to 2.00 corn? Not long, then where would you be? Cheap feed and food mean very low prices for crops.Land prices these days don't leave room for low crop prices.
Posted by Raymond Simpkins at 10:43AM CST 02/19/13
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