Conservation Buffer and Wildlife Habitat CRP Enrollment Starting Again
May 3rd, 2013
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has issued a notice to its state and local offices that on May 13, 2013, FSA will once again begin accepting offers for new contracts under the Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) four targeted subprograms: the Continuous signup (buffer initiative), Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, Farmable Wetlands Program, and State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement.
NSAC urged the restart and has been concerned about the delay. New enrollments in these programs ceased on September 1, 2012 when the 2008 Farm Bill expired and, with it, the authority for new CRP signups. The Farm Bill provisions of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the “fiscal cliff” bill) extended CRP authority through September 30, 2013. On February 16, 2013, FSA announced the opening of the 45th General (whole field) CRP Signup from May 20 to June 14, 2013. The signup period for the CRP subprograms ends at the on September 30, 2013, when the Farm Bill again expires. The long-term future of the CRP and its subprograms will depend on congressional action on the Farm Bill.
NSAC conceptualized and has been a long-time champion of the CRP continuous signup (cCRP) that initially focused on the establishment of riparian buffers, grass waterways, contour grass strips, and other specific partial field conservation practices to control erosion and improve water quality. FSA has since established within the cCRP initiatives for Wetland Restoration and Duck Nesting Habitat to improve water quality and aquatic wildlife. They have also added a focus on other conservation concerns through a Longleaf Pine Initiative, an Upland Bird Habitat Buffer Initiative, and a Pollinator Initiative.
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) provides for partnership agreements between the USDA and state or tribal governments and may also involve non-governmental organizations that provide funding or conservation services. CREP agreements address high-priority conservation issues of both local and national significance, such as impacts to water supplies or loss of critical habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife species or fish populations. Currently, FSA has entered in to 45 CREP agreements in targeted watersheds in 33 states.
The CRP Farmable Wetlands Program has a goal of enrolling and restoring the wetlands uses of 1 million cares of farmed wetland. The State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement provides for funding and technical assistance for projects that are developed to benefit threatened, endangered and other high-priority species.
For more information on this CRP subprograms, contact your FSA County Office.