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Grassland enrollment adds 2.5 million acres to Conservation Reserve

The USDA said it accepted offers from landowners to enroll 2.5 million acres under the Grassland option of the Conservation Reserve, double the amount accepted last year.

The USDA said it accepted offers from landowners to enroll 2.5 million acres under the Grassland option of the Conservation Reserve, double the amount accepted last year. Nearly 45 percent of the new land will enter in two priority zones set by USDA, the Greater Yellowstone Elk Migratory Corridor in the West and the Historical Dust Bowl Region, still at risk of wind erosion, in the central and southern Plains.

“This is a powerful program and we want to continue to grow interest in Grassland CRP (Conservation Reserve),” said Zach Ducheneaux, head of the Farm Service Agency.

With the Grassland option, the USDA will add more than 5.3 million acres to the Conservation Reserve, which pays landowners an annual rent in exchange for idling fragile land for 10 years or more. A so-called general signup, for large tracts of land, netted 1.9 million acres earlier this year and “continuous” enrollment, for high-priority work on a limited number of acres, brought more than 900,000 acres. The reserve shrank to 20.6 million acres this year, the smallest since 1987. The 2018 farm law allows up to 27 million acres in the Conservation Reserve.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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