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Image: Andrew Weeks/Prairie Business

Deadline nears for ag producers to enroll in Conservation Reserve Program

Time is running out to enroll in this year’s Conservation Reserve Program.

The deadline to sign up is Feb. 28, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This signup is available to farmers and private landowners who are either enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling for another 10- to 15-year term, the USDa said in a news release on Feb. 18.

Now in its 35th year, CRP was signed into law in 1985 and is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U.S.  Some of the successes it has seen over the years include:

  • Preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;
  • Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively;
  • Sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road;
  • Creating more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world 7 times; and
  • Benefiting bees and other pollinators and increased populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and many other birds.

Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees that help control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.

CRP has 22 million acres enrolled, according to the USDA, but the 2018 Farm Bill lifted the cap to 27 million acres.

To enroll, find the nearest FSA office