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Bush Directive Allows CRP Re-Enrollment

If there was any doubt that sportsmen would play a role in the upcoming elections, it was erased in early August when President George W. Bush directed the US Department of Agriculture to offer early re-enrollment and contract extensions for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres that begin expiring in 2007.

The administration had the sportsman vote in mind in early August when it announced that the 16 million CRP acres due to expire in 2007 are eligible for early re-enrollment and contract extensions. Two million of those acres are in North and South Dakota, the duck-producingest states in the country.

Bush also made a commitment to achieve full enrollment of CRP up to the 39.2 million acres approved by Congress in the last farm bill.

“This is great news for ducks and duck hunters,” says Delta President Rob Olson. “CRP is a major reason duck numbers blossomed in the second half of the 1990s, but there’s been a growing concern that CRP wasn’t going to be re-authorized in the next farm bill. Now it would appear those contracts can be re-enrolled prior to the next farm bill.

“Not only is this good news for ducks, but it also means that sportsmen’s voices are being heard in Washington. Hunters expressed their concern about the future of CRP, and the administration listened.

“Of course, the devil’s in the details,” says Olson. “Until the Farm Service Agency (FSA) comes out with the actual guidelines, we don’t know exactly how the pothole region states will fare. But for right now, everything looks great.”

“This program builds on the conservation ethic of farmers and ranchers to protect and improve natural resources and enhance wildlife habitat,” said Agriculture Secretary Ann Venneman.

Offers accepted under the 2004 signup will become effective Oct. 1, 2005 or Oct. 1, 2006, at the producer’s discretion.