The Conservation Reserve Program 2020 general signup deadline to enroll is Feb. 28, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to remind producers the signup is available to farmers and private landowners.

Those signing up can do so for the first time or re-enroll their term.

“This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want producers and private landowners to know that we have just one month remaining,” FSA administrator Richard Fordyce said in a news release. “It is critical that they make their final determinations and submit offers very soon to take advantage of this popular conservation program.”

According to the USDA, the 2018 Farm Bill gave a new cap of 27 millions acres of CRP, up from its previous 22 million with yearly rental payments sent to those who have enrolled in the program.

The yearly rental payments will be for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species.

The species include approved grasses or trees or “covers,” which can improve water quality, develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands and control soil erosion, according to the USDA.

The USDA said 2020 marks the CRP's 35th year, and its successes include preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding; reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95% and 85% respectively; sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases; creating more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers; and benefiting bees and other pollinators and increased populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and other birds.

CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U.S. since it was signed into law in 1985.

Providing many conservation and economic benefits, the program has evolved over the years from its original intention of controlling soil erosion and stabilizing commodity prices when marginal lands were taken out of production.

The Soil Health and Income Protection Program, a CRP pilot program, is slated to open in early 2020, along with the 2020 CRP Grasslands signup, which runs from March 16 through May 15, according to the FSA.

To enroll in CRP, contact the local FSA county office or visit fsa.usda.gov/crp.

Visit farmers.gov/service-locator to locate a local FSA office.

 

To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.