WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2010 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the 25th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) which has protected our nation’s natural resources since the signing of the historic Food Security Act of 1985. The act provided for the establishment of CRP and for the protection of highly erodible land.
“CRP has a 25-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation’s natural resources through voluntary participation,” said Vilsack. “Although it was designed to address soil erosion, CRP has become one of the standouts in the USDA arsenal of conservation programs by continuing to provide significant economic and environmental benefits beyond its original intent.”
CRP was introduced at a time when soil erosion exceeded more than 3 billion tons per year, wetlands were being drained, water quality was deteriorating and wildlife populations were under stress due to the loss of habitat. CRP provided solutions to all of these problems. Since its inception, the program has helped reduce soil erosion by 622 million tons, provided natural habitats for wildlife, restored more than 2 million acres of wetlands and removed millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air.
CRP, which is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), is a voluntary program that encourages agricultural landowners to convert highly erodible cropland or other environmentally sensitive acreage to vegetative cover. Landowners receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term conservation practices on eligible farmland. To date, the total national CRP stands at 31.3 million acres enrolled in nearly 738,000 contracts.