6,526,717.   That’s how many acres currently under a CRP contract are set to expire this autumn.  If you thought last hunting season was tough, think about the ramifications to pheasants, quail, ducks, deer and our nation’s water quality if we lose 6.5 million acres more of critical habitat created by CRP lands.  The clock to re-enroll those acres started this morning when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new CRP General Signup.
Here are the key pieces of information on the upcoming signup:
Timing: Starting date is Monday, March 12th and it will run through Friday, April 6, 2012
EBI: Offers for CRP contracts are ranked according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). USDA’s Farm Service Agency collects data for each of the EBI factors based on the relative environmental benefits for the land offered. Each eligible offer is ranked in comparison to all other offers and selections made from that ranking.  EBI rankings will use the same factors as the 2011 CRP general signup.
No Acre Target: The USDA has said there is no current acre target for this signup, so it’s critical that all landowners with an interest in enrollment check out their options at their local USDA Service Center.
Technical Assistance: Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists are eager to assist landowners make the most competitive offers possible.  Contact your local Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist.
National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2012: All attendees to this year’s event in Kansas City can sit down with a biologist and receive one-on-one expert advice on their CRP offer or any other federal conservation program.  Stop by the Landowner Habitat Help Room at the show to learn more.
At last year’s National Pheasant Fest in Omaha, USDA Secretary addressed our attendees, “Over the past 25 years, support for CRP has grown thanks to strong backing from partners like Pheasants Forever, farmers, ranchers, conservationists, hunters, fishermen and other outdoor sports enthusiasts.  Not only has CRP contributed to the national effort to  improve water and  air quality, it has preserved habitat for wildlife, and prevented soil erosion by protecting the most sensitive areas including those prone to flash flooding and runoff.”
If you know a landowner interested in CRP, make the call and get them informed on the new CRP General Signup.  The clock on 6.5 million acres is ticking.  The pheasants and quail that call those acres home are depending on us.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.