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ND has a major CRP acreage shortage

Rural Landscape south of Mandan
Anzley Harmon
North Dakota Tourism
Rural Landscape south of Mandan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for its voluntary Conservation Reserve Program. CRP land in North Dakota peaked 15 years ago with almost 3.4 million acres. Now, with only about 1 million CRP acres, there is a significant shortage in critical nesting and fawning habitat in the state.

Terry Oswald is a private lands biologist from Harvey. He says CRP lands aren’t just about wildlife.

"For the most part, it puts grass on the ground, and it helps with water erosion, wind erosion, all that kind of stuff. It helps with water quality as well."

Oswald says changes in farming practices caused many farmers to pull out of the program.

"They're going into the no till type farming and that kind of stuff, where they're able to farm some of these areas a little bit better. Sometimes the cost of CRP isn't as good as what they're getting for farming, so they'll take it out of the CRP program. a couple years ago, there were no CRP programs, so people had to decide what to do with their land, and so we lost a lot of acres that way."

The USDA is making changes to the program so that CRP is more appealing to landowners. Improved rental rates and new incentives, such as allowing grazing in some conditions, were added to encourage more land enrollment.