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CRP - Where are we at? DEC 2023

February 27, 2024 by

Don't expect high pheasant numbers without high CRP enrollment.  After attending Pheasant Fest and hearing very little about acreage goals for the 2023 Farm Bill I am not optimistic.  Here's the latest status and where we are headed:

  • See previous report from Feb. 2023 on CRP
  • USDA report ending Dec 31, 2023 - (1-Pager) 16.1 million acres enrolled nationally. (does not include Grasslands GRP-CRP).  This is down half a million acres from previous years report.
  • National USDA CRP Summary Report for Dec. 2023
  • Current Farm Bill CRP enrollment CAP - 27 million acres (to be accomplished by 9/30/2023).  This is a missed goal.
  • Basically how they are attempting to get to CAP within budget is signing up a lot of GRP which is protecting existing grasslands but not converting croplands to grasslands.
  • There is a big difference in "Protecting" acres vs. "Converting" acres.  CRP has always been used to convert cropland acres to grassland.  GRP changes that.
  • 2024 General and Continuous Signups Underway Now.
  • Acres set to expire over next 3 years is 3.0 Million acres (2024-2026).

Executive Summary

  • Conversion of production cropland to CRP is what is critical here.  Grasslands signups are not conversions but protections of existing which is important but will not provide gains in the carbon battle or wildlife nesting battle.
  • Major Factor - Chemically intensive and progressive production agriculture.  There is no offset for this other that conversion of these acres to CRP.
  • There is a National Pheasant Management Plan that encompasses 24 states in total.  Their goal for CRP is 45 million acres.
  • USDA launches first phase of soil carbon monitoring of CRP
  • All-time high CRP enrollment occurred in 2007 at 37 million acres.  We are now at the all-time low (16.6M).  Factoring in GRP.
  • Major Issue:  The overall CRP acreage of 24.7M Acres includes 8.6M Acres of Grasslands CRP (or GRP).  GRP acreages are simply existing or pastureland acres that get put in a program and are not converted from cropland or to cropland.  The all time high CRP enrollment of 37M acres did not have GRP acres because it did not exist.  So real effective CRP enrollment is 24.7M - 8.6M or 16.1M Acres.  Certainly this is the lowest national acreage enrollment.  GRP sounds good but is really a net loser in conservation.  Should be on its own acreage report and program.

Author's Opinions

  • The goals of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) will put extreme pressure on CRP to take more acres out to put back into production for SAF.
  • See White Paper on SAF.  Conclusion on page 24.  At what price and outcome are we doing this?
  • The National Pheasant Plan notes that wildlife numbers are declining faster than expiring CRP acres.
  • CRP is by far the best climate tool on the planet.  
  • Grain prices have been very high for the last year or so.  CRP is expensive but so are environmental disasters.
  • Pheasant numbers will not reach 2007 highs until CRP enrollment also returns to its high of 37M or higher.  Or, 1.8M in South Dakota alone.
  • If the country is serious about this, it will need to enroll a minimum of 50M acres.  But how will you get producers to convert cropland?