Tag Archives: crp

CRP sign up coming soon

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Producers interested in submitting bids to enroll land in Conservation Reserve Program acres have from May 20 through June 14. Applications received during the CRP signup period will be ranked against others according to the Environmental Benefit Index.

Kevin Kading, North Dakota Game and Fish Department private land section leader, said there are some EBI factors that producers can influence. “Game and Fish Department private land biologists and other conservation partners such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever can help producers find the best possible combination of factors that will positively influence their EBI score, which may increase their likelihood of being accepted into the program,” Kading said.

Game and Fish offers cost-share assistance and additional incentives if producers enroll their CRP into the department’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen program to allow walk-in access for hunting.

“New to the PLOTS program this year is Game and Fish will make arrangements with contractors to assist producers with land preparation, grass seeding and CRP management,” Kading said. This service is offered for producers who enroll CRP in PLOTS in Dickey, Ransom, Sargent, LaMoure, Burleigh, Emmons, McLean, Sheridan, Stark, Hettinger and Adams counties.

Producers should contact the county Farm Service Agency office, or the following biologists, for more information about the general signup and opportunities with PLOTS. A series of short videos with tips and advice on how producers can maximize their CRP offer, and information about PLOTS cost-share and grass seeding assistance can also be found on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

CRP turns 25 years old. But how will it look at 30?

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The Conservation Reserve Program turns 25 this year. While there is much to laud about this conservation program that has benefitted ground-nesting birds and other wildlife while safeguarding millions of acres of marginal cropland, it’s a bittersweet celebration.

Though North Dakota gained nearly 132,000 new CRP acres in a March-April signup, contracts involving about 387,000 acres will expire by fall, leaving the state 1 million acres poorer since 2007, when more than 3 million acres blanketed the landscape.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program was signed into law in 1985 to reduce grain surpluses to jumpstart commodity prices, and decrease erosion on marginal croplands. Lands enrolled in CRP are planted in grass and left mostly undisturbed for 10 years or more with periodic management, such has haying or grazing. Landowners receive rental payments and cost-share assistance to participate in the voluntary program.

“CRP pretty much did what it was supposed to do,” according to Greg Link, assistant chief of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s wildlife division. “Commodity prices gradually improved and soil erosion decreased. We knew it would benefit wildlife if enough landowners enrolled enough acres. As wildlife populations flourished, interest from hunters grew. If anything, the program probably exceeded expectations.”

CRP was at its peak in North Dakota in 2007 when the state had 3.4 million acres of mostly idle grassland. A reduced nationwide cap, cut from 39 million acres to 32 million acres in the 2008 Farm Bill, along with other factors like high commodity prices, high cash rents, and demands for more cropland for food and fuel production, have slowly reduced interest in the program in North Dakota and elsewhere.

With deliberations already underway on a new farm bill, feedback points to an even lower nationwide CRP cap in the future. Once a staple on North Dakota’s landscape, some projections indicate the state will have fewer than 1 million acres by the end of 2013. If that happens, ground-nesting pheasant and duck populations will be hit the hardest.

In the future, Link said, finding places to hunt and finding game to pursue will be much more difficult. As a result, the number of resident and nonresident hunters most likely will decline.

“Unless something changes, the future for the program is not bright,” Link said. “It’s not just the loss of wildlife habitat, but CRP is a major ingredient in the department’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen program, and that will likely shrink because there is no way to have the same quality habitat and the same amount of habitat available without CRP.”

CRP signup

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Information to share from the Farm Service Agency regarding the
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the new Voluntary Public Access and
Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP)

FSA has announced a general signup will be held from August 2-27. This is
the first general signup since 2006. Eligible producers include current CRP
participants with contracts expiring on September 30, 2010 (4.5 million
acres). A couple of fact sheets on the signup are attached, one of which
includes a summary of the Environmental Benefits Index that will be used to
rank offers. The CRP interim rule addressing changes made by the 2008 Farm
Bill is also attached. You can access the Final Supplemental EIS developed
for these changes to CRP at
FSA has also revised the CRP Handbook to reflect changes in the rule and
provide specifics as to how these changes will be implemented. To see the
revisions in 2-CRP (Revision 5) you can go to:

(See attached file: crp_ebi39_072010.pdf)(See attached file: 2010 CRP fact

Notices are attached on preparation for the signup (CRP-672) and how the new
exclusion from the 25% county cap for continuous CRP will work (CRP-672).
Links to all of the CRP notices referenced in CRP 672 can be found at
http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/notices. Please note that according to CRP-672,
FSA State Conservation Program Specialists are required to work with FWS and
state fish and wildlife agency officials to develop job sheets by practice
for inclusion in the final conservation plan.


FSA is requesting assistance from all their conservation partners to get the
word out on the signup and to help target high priority areas for fish and

The Farm Bill provided $50 million through 2012 for a competitive grants
program available to states and tribes to encourage public access on private
lands for purposes of wildlife dependent recreation, including hunting and
fishing, and other compatible recreation activities, such as wildlife
observation, photography, and environmental education and interpretation.
FSA has published an interim rule and fact sheet for the program (attached).
States and tribes have until August 23 to submit grant applications for the
$16.7 million available in grants for FY 2010.
Another $16.7 million will be available for each of the next two fiscal
years. Additional information is available at:

(See attached file: vpa_hip_factsht.pdf)(See attached file:

Biomass Crop Assistance Program
FSA has published a Final Programmatic EIS on the program and a final rule
is expected soon which would allow implementation of the biomass crop
establishment portion of the program under the targeted implementation
alternative. The link to the EIS is the same as above for the CRP
Supplemental EIS

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Dave Walker
Farm Conservation Programs Coordinator
Division of Habitat and Resource Conservation U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop 770
Arlington, VA 22203

Phone: 703-358-2310
Fax: 703-358-2232
E-mail: dave_walker@fws.gov


weather and wildlife

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While this spring’s water from Devils Lake to floods in the Red River Valley and recent downpours in Minot have been bad for people the ducks have been loving it. Silver lining? Small..but it is a silver lining:

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual spring breeding duck survey showed an index of more than 4.5 million birds, an increase of 12 percent from last year and 107 percent above the long-term average (1948-2009). The 2010 index is the third highest on record.
All species, except for wigeon (-9 percent), showed an increase from last year. Pintails were up 10 percent and were at the highest level since 1970. Mallards were up 12 percent and were the fourth highest on record. The most significant increases were ruddy ducks (+162 percent), green-winged teal (+91 percent), scaup (+54 percent), and redhead (+33 percent).
In addition, all species were above the long-term average.
The spring water index was up 5 percent from 2009 and 76 percent above the long-term average. It was the fifth highest in survey history and the highest since 1999.
Mike Johnson, game management section leader, cautions that the water index is based on basins with water, and does not necessarily represent the amount of water contained in wetlands. “Water conditions were generally good throughout the state, with the abundant snow cover and significant spring rains filling most basins,” he added. “The large number of ducks tallied during our survey is consistent with the well-above-average populations we have been carrying since 1994. These high numbers are the result of abundant Conservation Reserve Program nesting cover combined with the wet conditions that have been in place since the summer of 1993.”
Additionally, reports indicate that much of the Prairie Pothole Region in South Dakota and Montana was in good shape this spring. While much of prairie Saskatchewan and Manitoba were dry at the time of spring migration and settling, Johnson said Saskatchewan has since experienced significant improvement in water conditions that should benefit renesting and brood survival for those birds that did settle.
However, nesting cover in North Dakota continues to decline. Since the beginning of 2007, North Dakota has lost more than 700,000 CRP acres, and projections for the next two years indicate up to another 1.7 million acres could be converted to cropland.
“This loss of our critical nesting cover will be disastrous for breeding ducks and hunting opportunities in North Dakota,” Johnson said.
The July brood survey will provide a better idea of duck production and insight into what to expect this fall. Observations to date indicate that production will be improved across the state due to improved water conditions and increased wetland availability for brood production.


the future of CRP

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CRP comment period: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency is seeking comments on the federal Conservation Reserve Program and has scheduled nine public meetings from Sept. 15 through Oct. 8.

The closest meeting is set for 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at the AmericInn Lodge and Suites in Moorhead.

According to conservation group Pheasants Forever, more than 4.2 million acres of CRP have expired since 2005 and another 21 million acres are slated to expire during the next five years.

USDA has no plans for a new CRP signup to re-enroll or replace expiring acres. As a result, Pheasants Forever is urging people to get involved in the upcoming comment process.

“The stated intent of this public comment period is to find ways to make the Conservation Reserve Program more effective for producers and increase the environmental and wildlife benefits of the program,” said Dave Nomsen, vice president of government affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Those goals are unachievable without a new CRP general signup.”

To comment on CRP, send an e-mail to CRPcomments@tecinc.com, access the federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov or mail to CRP SEIS, c/o TEC Inc., 8 San Jose Drive Suite 3-B, Newport News, VA 23606.

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