Pheasants Forever Guardedly Optimistic about Recent USDA Comments Concerning CRP
Secretary Vilsack & FSA Administrator Coppess Talk about 32 Million Acre CRP Goal.
Saint Paul, Minn. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Recently, high ranking officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture spoke at public forums in support of the Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) wildlife benefits and the need to protect the program’s legacy.
While the verbal support for CRP may signal that hunter’s messages are being heard within the halls of USDA, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever says now is not the time to rest easy.
Just last month, USDA announced that one of their policy options under consideration is to drop CRP enrollment to 24 million acres nationwide.
On Monday, October 5th, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack joined South Dakota Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in Bath, South Dakota for a Rural Issues Forum. At that event, the Secretary commented on the need for CRP to be at the program’s 32 million acre cap. He also suggested it was time for a reallocation of available acres to meet the demands of CRP practices like the very popular new State Acres For wildlife Enhancement (Conservation Practice 38), which reached its 50,000-acreage allotment in South Dakota many months ago.
On Wednesday, October 7th, Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess testified before the U.S. House Agriculture Sub-Committee during a hearing on conservation programs. Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Affairs Dave Nomsen was in attendance for that hearing.
“Administrator Coppess reiterated Secretary Vilsack’s comments from South Dakota that USDA intends to keep CRP at, or nearly fully-subscribed at, 32 million acres. He also noted that SAFE and CREP sign-ups may be valuable tools toward that goal,” reported Nomsen. “I was also pleased to hear that a general CRP sign-up may be available next year. With 3 million acres expiring on September 30th of this year and another 5 million acres expiring next year, it was welcome news in support of conservationist’s favorite program.”
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency has asked the public for comments on CRP. That comment period is quickly coming to a close next Monday, October 19th. If you haven’t participated in this important process as yet, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have some simple suggestions for what to communicate by sending an email to [email protected]
- Request USDA implement CRP at its maximum acreage of 32 million acres, and that USDA request additional authority for an expanded CRP of at least 40 million acres from Congress
- Call for a new CRP General Signup
- Call for new authority for Continuous CRP programs such as CRP SAFE and CRP Upland Bird Habitat Buffers
- Ask that all Continuous CRP including CRP SAFE and CRP Upland Bird Habitat Buffers, be made available to all expiring contract holders