Agricultural producers interested in enrolling in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program must do so by Feb. 28. The general 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.
Farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing plant species to help control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. Marking its 35th anniversary in 2020 the Conservation Reserve Program has had many successes, according to the USDA.
- 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
- Benefiting bees and other pollinators
- Increasing populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper-sparrows and many other birds
The Conservation Reserve Program continuous signup is ongoing, which enables producers to enroll for certain practices. The USDA’s Farm Service Agency plans to open in early 2020 the Soil Health and Income Protection Program. It's a Conservation Reserve Program pilot. The 2020 Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands signup runs from March 16 to May 15. Visit fsa.usda.gov/crp or farmers.gov/service-locator for more information.