On Monday, September 21st, Moorhead will become the center of the pheasant hunting universe. You see, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is coming to Moorhead's AmericInn Lodge for a listening session with farmers, landowners, hunters and concerned citizens about the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
CRP is undoubtedly the most successful conservation program in modern times. It is the single biggest reason Minnesota's pheasants have rebounded over the last decade. Unfortunately, over 4.2 million acres have expired nationwide since 2005; and over the next five years, another 21 million more acres are slated to expire.
Pheasants Forever members in attendance last night during the country's first listening session in Washington state have reported back that the USDA is considering a drop in CRP enrollment to 24 million acres nationwide. In Pheasants Forever's view, this is completely unacceptable and we urge all of our members and supporters to take immediate action by contacting the USDA in opposition of this proposal. That makes participating in the public comment period and public meetings about CRP the most significant action you can take as a Minnesota pheasant or duck hunter.
It's important that the USDA hear from Minnesota's concerned sportsmen and women, landowners, business owners, and individuals with views in support of CRP. Comments don't need to be detailed and lengthy to be effective. Participants should tell the USDA leaders who they are and why CRP is important to them.
Here are a few suggestions from Pheasants Forever about key CRP messages to consider:
- USDA needs to tell Congress they want authority for an expanded CRP of at least 40 million acres; up from the 32 million acres the last Farm Bill dropped us to.
- USDA needs to announce plans for long overdue general signups, and landowners need information about extensions to existing contracts.
- CRP SAFE or CP-38's should have a nationwide goal of 1 million acres. Minnesota's SAFE acres are already maxed out with strong landowner demand for enrollment and we need more acres here in Minnesota immediately to take advantage of this interest.
- All Continuous CRP (CCRP) practices should be made available to all expiring contract holders and USDA should set a goal of capturing as many acres as possible in buffers and the SAFE practice.
5PM to 7PM on Monday, September 21, 2009
AmericInn Lodge and Suites
If you can't make it to Moorhead on Monday, there are other options to voice your support for CRP. Public comments on CRP are due by October 19, 2009.
• Email comments to CRPcomments@tecinc.com
• Submit comments online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov
• Mail comments to: CRP SEIS, c/o TEC Inc., 8 San Jose Dr., Suite 3-B, Newport News, VA 23606
• Fax comments to: (757) 594-1469