Delta Waterfowl Applauds USDA for Opening Conservation Reserve Program Signups

The Duck Hunters Organization hopes new CRP enrollments will benefit ducks and duck hunters

BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has resumed signups for the Conservation Reserve Program — which offers substantial benefits to upland-nesting ducks such as mallards, pintails, gadwalls and teal — with general enrollment open until Feb. 28, 2020.

The voluntary program offers financial incentives to agriculture producers in order to conserve essential private-land habitat, including waterfowl nesting cover. Since 1985, CRP has provided millions of acres of breeding-duck habitat that would’ve otherwise sown crops, including in the critical, duck-producing prairie pothole region. A general CRP signup has not occurred since 2016.

Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill increased the CRP acreage cap to 27 million acres by 2023, up from the current enrollment of 22 million acres.

“The Duck Hunters Organization is pleased that the USDA has opened general signups for CRP, which is great news for ducks and duck hunters because CRP has proven its ability to boost waterfowl production,” said John Devney, senior vice president of Delta Waterfowl. “We’re hopeful that this enrollment period will translate into added benefits both for farmers and ducks.”

The USDA expects strong participation in the signups, which will offer an estimated 8 million CRP acres given the increased cap and expiring contracts. However, Delta is monitoring several USDA program adjustments that could diminish landowner interest and mute CRP’s legacy of conserving and enhancing vital waterfowl nesting habitat.

“CRP’s success hinges on the willingness of individual farmers and ranchers to participate because they find value in the program,” Devney said. “The question is: How will the new program with reduced incentives be received by private landowners? We believe there is high demand across the Prairie Pothole Region and elsewhere for CRP, but we just don’t know how program will be viewed. We will be working with USDA through this signup and rulemaking to explore all opportunities that give landowners the types of options that work for them, their farms and ranches, and ultimately, that work for ducks and duck hunters.”

Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America.