New CRP Sign-up Makes News At National Pheasant Fest

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic in Minneapolis drew 28,855 people during the three-day event, which wrapped up Sunday in the Minneapolis Convention Center.

This year’s event commemorated the nonprofit conservation group’s 30th anniversary.

The big news from this year’s Pheasant Fest occurred Saturday, when Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack formally announced the next general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program. Joining him were U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, all D-Minn.

According to Pheasants Forever, the new four-week signup is scheduled to begin May 20, providing landowners the chance to enroll the least productive, most environmentally sensitive acres in the program to benefit wildlife, water quality and soils.

The last general signup occurred in the spring of 2012, when nearly 4.5 million acres were offered and 3.9 ultimately were enrolled.

Vilsack on Saturday also said there will be a review of soil rental rates in an effort to keep CRP competitive with current near-record commodity-driven land prices. And plans are in the works to reopen enrollment for Continuous CRP acreage made possible by extending the 2008 Farm Bill through this year.

As part of Continuous CRP, 1 million acres reallocated in 2012 will be made available to some of CRP’s most targeted and effective practices, such as CP38 SAFE and CP33 Buffers.

“Under President Obama’s leadership, USDA has worked with a record number of farmers, ranchers and landowners — more than 500,000 across the nation — to achieve record benefits in soil and water conservation,” Vilsack said in a news release from Pheasants Forever. “By ensuring that CRP remains strong, vibrant and an economically viable option for producers, we can ensure impactful conservation efforts in the years to come — including healthy wildlife habitat in every corner of our nation.”

Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s vice president of governmental affairs, said the effort to make CRP more financially attractive to producers comes at a crucial time.

“We absolutely needed these tools to be delivered now,” Nomsen said.  “Considering the massive habitat losses experienced as a result of last summer’s drought and the fact producers are planning their spring plantings right now, this was a critical announcement for farmers, hunters and conservationists.

“Improving CRP’s financial viability is critical to making this program successful for our farmer friends.”

Landowners interested in learning more about the upcoming general signup and other aspects of CRP should contact a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill wildlife biologist. In North Dakota, Pheasants Forever’s biologists are:

Rachel Bush (Barnes, La Moure and Stutsman counties): (701) 252-2521 ext. 129 or

Matt Olson (Sarget County): (701) 724-3247 ext. 3 or

Matt Flintrop (Billings, Stark and Hettinger counties): (701) 403-4850 or

For additional info, contact Nomsen at (320) 834-3076.

The next Pheasants Forever convention is set for Feb. 14-16, 2014 at the Delta Center in Milwaukee, Wis.