Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published February 08, 2012, 12:00 AM

Pheasants Forever leader from Garfield says impact of CRP sign-up is staggering

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a four-week Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up, beginning on March 12 and ending on April 6. Currently, about 30 million acres are enrolled in CRP; and contracts on an estimated 6.5 million acres will expire on September 30, 2012.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a four-week Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up, beginning on March 12 and ending on April 6.

Currently, about 30 million acres are enrolled in CRP; and contracts on an estimated 6.5 million acres will expire on September 30, 2012.

“Today’s announcement of a March general CRP sign-up is welcome news. More than 20 percent of all CRP acres enrolled across the country are set to expire in eight months,” said Dave Nomsen of Garfield, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s vice president of government affairs. “Consider what those acres mean to pheasants, quail, ducks, water quality, rural economies and hunters. It’s staggering to consider.”

CRP has a 25-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation's natural resources through voluntary participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the U.S.

"There are certainly challenges in front of this CRP sign-up when you look at the demands on America’s agricultural lands today,” added Nomsen. “However, I know CRP can succeed in harmony with agriculture at safeguarding the toughest-to-farm acres by providing a stable source of income, while providing wildlife, water and soil benefits.”

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 90 Farm Bill biologists working at USDA service centers to provide one-to-one assistance to farmers and ranchers during the 2012 general sign-up.

The CRP general sign-up is a competitive process in which each contract offer competes with all other offers. All acres offered for CRP enrollment are weighted accordingly via the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI), as the FSA collects data for each EBI factor based on the relative environmental benefits for the land offered.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Farm Bill biologists work with landowners to obtain the highest EBI score, thereby improving the chances of a contract offer being accepted.

One way landowners can significantly improve their CRP contract offers is by including a pollinator habitat component.

The 2008 federal Farm Bill mandated that USDA conservation programs be used to help restore and/or manage for pollinator habitat, and higher EBI scores are awarded for these cover types.

Pheasants and quail share a common need for habitat featuring a diverse “forb” – flowering plant – component with pollinating insects like honey bees, butterflies, and beetles. Following a pheasant or quail nest's hatch, young chicks survive almost exclusively on a diet of insects. These insects are dependent upon a diverse mix of forbs in and around quality nesting cover.

Likewise, a diverse mix of flowering plants creates the best brood cover to allow pheasant and quail chicks to move through habitat at ground level, while having protection from avian predators above.

Additionally, current CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall may make new contract offers. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever encourage landowners planning on letting their current CRP contracts expire to consider offering at least partial reenrollment of their acreage. This helps increase yields to their cropland, while maintaining water quality and wildlife benefits, according to Nomsen.

Additionally, landowners planning to attend Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic in Kansas City on February 17, 18 and 19 can receive CRP sign-up advice by visiting the Landowner Habitat Help Room during any of the three days of the event.

ABOUT PHEASANTS FOREVER

Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies.

Tags: