AMES, Iowa, July 22, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA will accept 1.7 million acres offered under the 45th Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up. The department received nearly 28,000 offers on more than 1.9 million acres of land, demonstrating CRP's continuing appeal a successful voluntary program for soil, water, and wildlife conservation. Under Vilsack's leadership, USDA has enrolled nearly 12 million acres in new CRP contracts since 2009. Currently, there are more than 26.9 million acres enrolled on 700,000 contracts.
"For 27 years, lands in CRP have helped to conserve our nation's resources and played a part in mitigating climate change," said Vilsack. "American farmers and ranchers continue to recognize the importance of protecting our nation's most environmentally sensitive land by enrolling in CRP. As the commodities produced by our farmers and ranchers continue to perform strongly in the marketplace - supporting one out of every 12 jobs here in the United States - it is no surprise that American producers continue to recognize the importance of protecting our nation's most environmentally sensitive land by enrolling in CRP."
In addition to today's announcement, over the last four years, USDA has set aside significant acreage under CRP's continuous enrollment programs to target habitat conservation on especially important lands. For example, in March 2012, President Obama dedicated 1 million acres of CRP to continuous enrollment programs to conserve wetlands, grasslands and wildlife. This year, farmers and ranchers have already offered more than 370,000 acres under continuous CRP signup, a figure that is impressive given that the lack of a farm bill extension last fall meant that CRP enrollment only reopened this spring in May. Lack of a comprehensive farm bill this year has resulted in uncertainty for achieving further enrollment objectives under continuous CRP, USDA says.
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