For Immediate Release

New CRP Practice Targets Erodible Lands, Helps Pheasants & Quail

Pheasants Forever Requests Additional Actions of U.S. Department of Agriculture

Saint Paul, Minn. - February 21 -

Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever were pleased to be joined by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack via a video message Saturday evening during its sold out national banquet in Kansas City, Missouri. In the video message, Secretary Vilsack informed the crowd gathered to celebrate National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2012 of the USDA’s newest Conservation Reserve Program practice targeting up to 750,000 acres of America’s most highly erodible lands.

The new Highly Erodible Cropland Initiative will be available for enrollment this summer for lands meeting or exceeding an erodibility index of 20. Enrollment in this CRP practice will assist producers with targeting their most highly erodible cropland by enabling them to plant wildlife-friendly, long-term cover. In many cases the most cost-effective option to reduce erosion is to put the land into a wildlife friendly cover, which will improve habitat and reduce sediment and nutrient runoff and reduce wind erosion airborne dust concentrations.

“Lands in CRP help support strong incomes for our farmers and ranchers and are the source of good middle class jobs related to outdoor recreation, hunting, and fishing," said Secretary Vilsack. "This announcement will strengthen CRP by focusing on protecting the most environmentally sensitive land. It targets limited resources where they can make the most difference for farmers, ranchers and to drive economic growth."

“This new conservation practice makes dollars and sense for any producer with erodible cropland,” added Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “This announcement in addition to the new upcoming general CRP signup is a start, but we’ve got a long way to go toward repairing the hits CRP has taken over the last few years due to skyrocketing land and commodities prices.”

In addition to this latest USDA announcement, Pheasants Forever is calling on the USDA for the following actions:

• Updated and more competitive CRP soil rentals rates.

• Reallocations of wildlife-focused CRP practices like CP-33’s for quail, CP-37’s for waterfowl, and CP-38’s for pheasants and other wildlife. These reallocations would move un-enrolled acres to states that have maxed out their current allotment.

• New continuous pollinator provisions which would concurrently strengthen CRP’s wildlife, agricultural, and farm economy benefits. Pheasants and quail share a common need for habitat featuring a diverse forb (flowering plant) component with pollinating insects like honey bees, butterflies, beetles, and bats. According to the National Research Council, the annual value of honey bee pollination alone to U.S. agriculture is between $14 and $19 billion, making pollinators a crucial aspect of our nation's agricultural production, and in turn, farm economy.

CRP is a voluntary program designed to help farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers protect their environmentally sensitive land. Through this initiative, eligible landowners receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Land can be enrolled on a continuous basis for a period of 10 years. Land currently not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this sign-up provided all eligibility requirements are met.

Landowners interested in learning more about the new Highly Erodible Croplands Initiative, the upcoming CRP general signup or other conservation options, should contact a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist. For additional inquiries, please contact Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Governmental Affairs at (320) 834-3076 / Email.

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 130,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

-30-

Rehan Nana (651) 209-4973 Rnana@quailforever.org