Compared to last year, the USDA doubled the number of acres in the CRP Grassland Signup period by enrolling 2.5 million acres. Gloria Montaño-Green, USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation, says the Grassland acres helped the total CRP signup to bypass five million acres.
“We did a huge announcement today, announcing more than 2.5 million acres of grasslands Conservation Reserve Program, really targeted to preserve and to be able to add support for conservation programs, bringing the total CRP Signup to more than 5.3 million acres in 2021, so, we did a lot of work to be able to incentivize and to increase the enrollment, to be able to share the value it has producers and the value it has for climate change mitigation. The announcement today shows the fruits of that labor and how we're able to increase the signup.”
USDA’s goal for total signup was four million acres. She talks about reasons for the increased interest in the Conservation Reserve Program.
“I attribute it to a few things: I think it's the incentives that were offered to be able to restructure, the education and outreach that was done to understand the value it has, to be able to show that this is something that is good for agriculture as well as good for conservation. It was really robust education and outreach and targeting in really key communities and then also the incentives that we provided.”
Montaño-Greene says setting aside acres is very good for the environment.
“To be able to help the grasslands area, we’ll be sequestering an incredible amount of carbon, but we'll also be thinking about what we're doing for wildlife habitat and grazing opportunities to be able to move forward. We had a significant number of acres that were enrolled in the Dustbowl Corridor, right in the Yellowstone elk migratory corridors, so, I think when you're looking at environmental and conservation benefits, we’re thinking about both wildlife and carbon.”
USDA did receive expanded signups from new locations, but the bulk of the expansion came from areas that traditionally do well in CRP.
“We did have a significant increase, at least, specifically in the targeted areas that we were moving forward for the ecosystem, but we also have some expansions. I don't think I shared with you that I'm an Arizonan and I’ll be making my way to D.C., but for example, Arizona had an increase on it. I think we also did see an increase in the spread of other states that were enrolling, but we also saw some traditional strength and growth in the states where we've always had great CRP enrollment, including Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, and New Mexico.”