Dakota Country Magazine October 2016 Edition - Page 72

Finding support for the ag community Trends in Conservation A As Conservation Reserve acres continue to diminish, habitat and hunting land become more remote and more valuable. North Dakota alone has lost about 65 percent of CRP land since it’s peak in the early 1990s. The 1.4 million acres of CRP that remains might sound like a lot, but compared to the 3.4 million peak total, it’s not. Conservationists, biologists, hunters and even landowners are already prompting Congress for increased funds for CRP in the next Farm Bill. Groups nationwide and from all concerns are already uniting to return the land to days of conservation, after last winter’s CRP sign-up that allowed dismal sign-up returns Page 72, Dakota Country, October 2016 by Bill Mitzel for both Dakotas. It’s important to recognize that retiring land to grass isn’t just for hunters and wildlife. It promotes clean water, clean air, as well as increased propagation of all wildlife in general, including many species of birds, insects and animals, some that are near the threatened list, which includes our own Western meadowlark, sage grouse, Dakota skipper and monarch butterflies. The program also provides a giant economic safety net for farmers. And they like it. Ag Support for Conservation Food and farm columnist for the Lincoln (Neb.) Sunday Journal Star, Alan Guebert, remarked that the USDA forecast earlier this year for total federal farm support will balloon to an estimated $13.9 billion, or 30 percent up from last year. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office projected earlier this year that two major crop insurance programs -- Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage -- will cost nearly $43 billion over 10 years. That’s $15 billion more than originally estimated. Expanded CRP acreage payments to landowners shines brightly in the face of those figures. A coalition of sportsmen’s groups, including the National Deer Alliance, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, is rallying advocates to speak up and rally behind increased CRP funding in the next Farm Bill in 2019. www.dakotacountrymagazine.com