In spite of the good news that USDA is signing up nearly 32 million Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, Ducks Unlimited (DU) is concerned the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) will still be losing more than 250,000 acres of CRP this year. Those acres are especially important for duck production.
"Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack tried to keep environmentally sensitive land in CRP, but for a number of reasons, landowners in portions of the PPR were not as interested as we had hoped," said Scott McLeod, DU governmental affairs representative for agricultural policy. "The resulting loss of CRP acres in the PPR will mean fewer acres available for nesting ducks when they arrive on the breeding grounds next year."
"Landowners did not receive points for wetlands in the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) during this sign-up like they have in the past, and this undoubtedly was a factor in the lower acceptance rates in portions of the PPR," he said.
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres, thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. -- Becky Jones Mahlum and Jennifer Kross, Bismarck, N.D.