PIERRE -- The USDA Farm Service Agency opened its general signup period for producers and landowners to enroll environmentally sensitive agricultural land into perennial cover for 10 to 15 years through the federally funded Conservation Reserve Program.
"CRP is a great alternative for producers," said Kevin Robling, interim secretary for South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department. "Enrolling land in CRP creates quality wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities which, in turn, strengthens our local economies as well as our state's deep-rooted hunting heritage."
Participants receive annual rental payments and 50% cost share to establish the perennial cover, which can be grasses or forbs, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat. There are options for haying and grazing in accordance with a conservation plan, but it could adjust payment amount.
"CRP has a proven track record of benefitting long-term soil health and improving water quality by reducing soil erosion and runoff. It can also increase profitability on marginal lands," said Hunter Roberts, interim secretary of agriculture and secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. "It's good for producers and for South Dakota's natural resources."
A cropping history of four out of six years from 2012-17 is required to enroll cropland. Land currently enrolled but expiring on Sept. 30 is also eligible to be re-enrolled this year. The signup period runs from Jan. 4 through Feb. 12, and accepted offers will begin Oct. 1.
"This is a very short window of time for South Dakota producers and landowners to enroll. The time to reach out to your local FSA offices is now to see if any of these CRP programs will work on your farm or ranch operation. Thank you in advance for considering this opportunity and for being stewards of South Dakota's water, land and wildlife resources," Robling said.
The non-competitive continuous CRP program is also an option for landowners and producers. It allows for the enrollment of buffer strips, wetland restoration, duck nesting habitat, pollinator habitat, prairie strips, windbreaks, shelterbelts and marginal pastureland buffers.
For more information, contact your local USDA Service Center or your Pheasants Forever Farm Bill wildlife biologist.