WASHINGTON, March 5, 2012–Conservation advocates, sportsmen and agriculture groups have issued statements of support for the new 1-million-acre Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) initiative to preserve grasslands and wetlands announced on Friday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Vilsack highlighted the new CRP initiative earlier today at Cabela's sporting goods store in La Vista, Neb., surrounded by boaters, hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, land conservationists, small business owners and others.
USDA's 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 United States. Under the Obama Administration, USDA has enrolled more than 8 million acres in CRP. The goal of the new CRP grasslands and wetlands initiative is to increase enrollment of environmentally sensitive land through targeted signups. USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers CRP, will set aside acres within the program for specific enrollments that benefit duck nesting habitat, upland birds, wetlands, pollinators and wildlife.
Statements of support for the new CRP initiative include:
Sara Hopper, Agricultural Policy Director, Environmental Defense Fund
"Secretary Vilsack's conservation reserve program initiative is a win-win for farmers, sportsmen, the environment and the economy. This announcement comes at a critical time because more than 6 million acres currently protected under CRP contracts are set to expire this year. Much of this land is concentrated in important places, like the Great Plains Prairie Pothole Region (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, northwest Iowa and northeast Montana) that serves as America's waterfowl factory."
Dale Hall, CEO, Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
"On behalf of the 1 million members and supporters of Ducks Unlimited, we applaud Secretary Vilsack's decision to target CRP acres for critical wetlands and waterfowl habitat. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration on conserving the wetlands and grasslands necessary to preserve our country's waterfowling traditions for generations to come."
Steve Kline, Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Center for Agricultural and Private Lands
"Increased enrollment of important fish and wildlife habitat land through targeted signups is the goal of the new CRP grasslands and wetlands initiative, and the USDA's commendable approach will ensure that this objective is achieved. Specific enrollment goals within the 32-million acre program will be set to benefit duck nesting habitat, upland bird habitat and wetlands, thereby helping secure fish and wildlife populations critical to our nation's outdoor traditions."
Roger Wolf, Director of Environmental Programs and Services, Iowa Soybean Association
"Iowa farmers support USDA's using continuous sign-up of CRP to achieve greater environmental benefits. With increasing global demand for food putting pressure on our land and water resources, this approach will give us the best opportunity for productivity, cleaner water and wildlife habitat."
Dave Nomsen, Vice President of Government Affairs, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever
"CCRP offers a host of conservation practices for wetlands, buffers, wildlife habitat and native grass. But each of these conservation practices has an acre allocation, and many of the practices covered in today's announcement were either at very near their allocation and unable to enroll new acres. This new initiative will improve the ability of CCRP to conserve some of our most important fish and wildlife habitat."
"No matter how staggeringly impressive the wildlife, water quality, flood mitigation and soil benefits of CRP are to society, the program needs to make sense to a farmer's bottom line in order for CRP to succeed. Today, Secretary Vilsack and President Obama sent a clear signal that CRP is evolving into a more focused, strategic and financially competitive conservation option for farmers and ranchers. There is no doubt commodities are out-competing yesterday's CRP, but it's also clear these focused CRP practices are an asset to any farmer and rancher's balance sheet."
Bridget Collins, Agriculture Policy Coordinator, National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative
"In these times of high crop and land values, CCRP needs to remain competitive. This new USDA initiative increases CCRP signing incentives payments for some practices from $100 to $150 per acre, further incentivizing landowners to enroll – and conserve – this valuable habitat."
More detailed information on CRP is available in the FSA fact sheet "Conservation Reserve Program," which can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov.
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