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PIERRE, S.D. – Agricultural producers and/or landowners now have the opportunity to submit their bids to enroll eligible land into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) during a general sign-up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency will be accepting CRP offers nationwide between March 12 and April 6. CRP provides annual financial compensation for agricultural producers to establish and maintain resource conserving cover on cropland for 10-15 years. It also provides cost-share for the establishment of habitat.

All South Dakota landowners are encouraged to consider offering a CRP bid on highly erodible and sensitive land during this general CRP sign-up. Producers whose offers were not accepted in last year’s general CRP sign-up should strongly consider making an offer again this year.

In an effort to improve CRP enrollment in South Dakota, the Game, Fish and Parks Department is offering a CRP cover upgrade incentive of $50/acre. Those who choose to upgrade the cover on their expiring CRP from a one-to-three species mix to a 5-15 species mix can maximize their chances of being accepted. In return for the incentive payment, participants are required to open those CRP acres to public hunting access through GFP’s Walk-In Area program for the length of the CRP contracts.

One reason more acres haven’t been reenrolled in the past is because the cover on expiring CRP acres didn’t score high enough.

“We have been told by numerous CRP participants that they did not have the money to upgrade their existing CRP cover during the past couple of general CRP signups,” said Mark Norton, GFP wildlife biologist. “We hope that by offering the cover upgrade incentive it will encourage more CRP participants to upgrade their existing cover and result in more acres of CRP in South Dakota.”

CRP provides valuable nesting and brood-rearing habitat for pheasants.

The loss of CRP in the past five years is one of the reasons for the 46 percent decline in last year’s pheasant population,” said Travis Runia, GFP upland game biologist.

With a general CRP sign-up available nationwide, South Dakota may be able to gain back some of the 400,000 acres of CRP that have been lost since 2007 and about 225,000 acres that will expire Sept. 30.

For more information or to submit an offer, agricultural producers should set up an appointment with their local USDA Farm Service Agency Office.

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