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grab the net

CRP Loss

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sparcebag

D2E you been gone for a while? Here's a true sportspersons way to access private land,CRP acres! Show up in spring ask a farmer if help is needed to gather field stones,I did this to get stones for the ole girls butterfly garden!Farmer told no help needed just take them from exsisting pile,Same farmer I asked in summer if I could pull weeds on his CRP for fall access.I pulled lots a weeds!!Another farmer I asked to buy corn to feed deer, pheasants in my yard he gave me 5-6 bushels I pull weeds for him.Both farmers in summer I stop by and offer help,and they both get some frozen cleaned fish from me! Of course I live right here!But did anyone of the CRP complainers ever try this?? Just stop in spring,Summer and ask to do some chores for hunting permission? the farmer from my experience will probably say no help needed but come hunting season what a way to open your conversation to ask permission! Ya lots of people will say I have no time to do this.Then in my opinion ya may as well expect to only hunt WPAs & WMAs NO EFFORT NO RESULTS! grin.gif

I dont leave trash on their property I pick it up,and that of others,So you might say I earn my access.I dont expect it!

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RoosterRedneck

Sparcebag,

That is an excellent way. I know as a kid I would pick rock and bale hay for a guy over by Florida Sloughs. I told him all I wanted was to be able to hunt pheasants and ducks. He said no problem and also paid me $5 an hour.

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Augusta

Quote:

Augusta,

I would be more then willing to help with that bug. I would also like to make an exception to your rule. My Dad baught 40 acres of good farm land. He built a house on 5 acres of it and rented out the other 35 acres for one year. This year it is in CRP. He is getting paid less an acre then he was renting the land. Plus now he has to do the weed control, etc. But he loves to hunt so the trade-off is all worth it for him. But the remarks you posted are probably 90% of CRP.


Down2Earth:

Go back read both of our posts. I said the CRP was an optional program, in your post you say your dad has good farmland. I'm sure that land produces a better income than a CRP payment. Keep in mind, the CRP program was intended for "marginal" land, not productive land. I get the impression your father put the land in CRP simply for "hunting" land, which he has every right to do.

If anyone does not like the idea of public hunting on CRP land, than simply don't hunt it. Keep pulling your weeds. grin.gif OR keep complaining about not being able to hunt as much as you like in ND.

It makes this task very difficult not only for myself, but DU, Pheasants Forever...ect..and others that are putting in tireless efforts so that ALL Minnesotans can have a place to hunt. It's unforunate that we have to tolerate some of the human gene pool that is polluted. smirk.gif

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RoosterRedneck

Augusta,

I'm all for what you and others have done and are trying to do. Our CRP all has signs that say no hunting without permission and both my phone number and my dads. Just this past week my parents were on vacation and I was out in SD hunting. I guy called and said he was standing buy our sign and wondered if he could hunt deer. I told him to go right ahead, but I also tell everyone that asks that this permission is good for 1 day only. They need to ask evey time. The next day he called and asked if he and his kid could go out pheasant hunting. I said sure. I drive all over the state. I see all the no hunting signs on CRP land and besides deer hunting I very rarely see people hunting. It would really be nice if people put their numbers on the signs so others could call them and ask.

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Augusta

Down2Earth,

I applaud you for what you and your family are doing. It's always nice to hear those kinds of stories, especially when it's about a father and his kid (family). It encourages our young people to get involved not only in the sport of hunting, but conservation as well. Our kids are our future and I want to encourage more of that. I would encourage everyone to join DU, Pheasants Forever, or some other group to encourage, and to help this resource flourish. We as sportsman HAVE to get involved!

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Hammer Handle

Our family has a lot of land in CRP. The weeds have been bad with some dry years (thistles), so we have sprayed the land constantly. As far as payment, even though the land in "marginal", the $$ is less than even a moderate crop would be.

If CRP meant that it was now puplic domain for hunting...we would drop in a heartbeat. My father is retired and has no more animals on the farm...but loves seeing pheasants and turkeys and other wildlife near his home. We love to hunt, but do not hunt pheasants and only take 1 -2 turkeys (if we get a license) for this land is for our dad.

We are not in CRP for the money. We are in it for 1)less hassle (besides spraying) 2) We feel like we are doing something good for the wildlife. We have more pheasants and especially turkeys than we have ever had before.

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sparcebag

Arent we losing enough CRP already? You want to force farmers to open THEIR land to a bunch of inconsiderate slobs (not all hunters but their out there)If you want to hunt it lease it or earn the right to access it,If it gets open to the public watch it go away along with the wildlife it supports! I'm not from the I'm special generation! So I dont expect to intrude on anothers property without permission or big brother backing me up!(more govt.rules)

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Augusta

Hammer,

I read your post and completely understand where you are coming from. But keep in mind the CRP program is "optional", meaning it is the famers choice if he wants to enroll in the progarm or not. I get the impression that your father enrolled in the program because he was close to retirement age. Keep in mind also, I am trying to get "optional" NOT "mandatory" access to CRP. Meaning, the landowner, at his own discreation could allow public hunting. The model that I am thinking of is the ND PLOTS program. From what I understand, it is success story for both the the landowners and sportsman.

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Augusta

Quote:

Arent we losing enough CRP already? You want to force farmers to open THEIR land to a bunch of inconsiderate slobs (not all hunters but their out there)If you want to hunt it lease it or earn the right to access it,If it gets open to the public watch it go away along with the wildlife it supports! I'm not from the I'm special generation! So I dont expect to intrude on anothers property without permission or big brother backing me up!(more govt.rules)


No one is trying to "force" anyone to open their land to public hunting.

"Lease the land" Haven't we as taxpayers already done that by signing a lease agreement (CRP Contract)?

No you're not from the "I'm special generation", but you are from the generation who closed access to private land to future generations, remember when and why the tresspass laws were passed? Some of us are just trying to gain some of that access back that is, and I would like to hope, it would be beneficial to the sportsman and landowners alike.

Like I've said before, if you don't like the CRP program, don't sign up for it, if you don't like public hunting on CRP land, don't hunt it or allow public hunting on it.

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sparcebag

There's a simplier solution for people who want others to cater to their whims BUY SOME LAND!! POST IT!!

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RoosterRedneck

How about giving those that choose to open up their CRP to the public extra $$$$ per acre?

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Augusta

That's exactly what is being suggested, some type of incentive to the farmer, either through tax breaks, more $$$, or whatever other ideas that anyone can think of. I keep referring to the ND PLOTS program, look into it yourself, you might be suprised as to how many landowners have signed up for it. I believe ND has now 1 million acres that are now open to public hunting due to this program. It just goes to show, that a program like this can work, if we get together and work on it.

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gonefishin11

I would pay more for my pheasant stamp if I knew some of the money was going to support a program like PLOTS in MN.

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Augusta

Here's an article describing the ND PLOTS Program

The Valley Outdoors

By Doug Leier

PLOTS Map - Opening Access

ND PLOTS maps are a great tool for open hunting areas

The State Game and Fish Department has had programs that cooperatively involve private landowners since the 1950s. But it’s been less than 10 years since the first inverted yellow triangular sign went up on tracts called Private Land Open to Sportsmen.

The PLOTS has its roots in legislation passed in 1997. The new law combined several different funds into one and removed restrictions on how the Game and Fish Department could use money earmarked for these funds. At the time, Game and Fish had about 36,000 acres in habitat, tree and food plots.

The legislation also enabled a new effort to provide public hunting access to grasslands in counties where pheasant densities were highest. The first on-the-ground projects under a new program called CRP cost-sharing debuted in 1998, with landowners enrolling about 24,000 acres of Conservation Reserve Program and adjacent acres.

In exchange for a cost-share of up to half the cost of the grass seed required to plant the former cropland to grass, the landowners signed agreements that allowed hunting access to those acres for the duration of the CRP contract.

Since then, the program has grown rapidly. This fall, hunters will find about 899,000 acres highlighted in the annual PLOTS guide. These acres are open to walking hunting access from Sept. 1 through April 1.

Understand that PLOTS is a voluntary program. Landowners decide whether they want to become involved. Over the years new programs have been designed to fit the needs of many different types of operations. The focus has expanded from just the primary pheasant counties, to all parts of the state, embracing a variety of hunting opportunities.

In 2006, the CRP cost-share program involves about 303,000 acres. The most popular program is Working Lands, which includes just over 415,000 acres. Under Working Lands, landowners can enroll part or all of their operations in short-term contracts.

A ND PLOTS land has about every species ND has to offer

Landowners signed up nearly a quarter-million acres into Working Lands in 2004, and most of those contracts were for two years. Cooperators apparently liked this option because more than 82 percent renewed their contracts after the 2005 hunting seasons. In addition, over the last two years hundreds of new tracts have been enrolled as well.

Habitat plots are longer-term agreements that involve idled land. They are also fairly popular and widespread, with about 137,000 acres this year.

The other PLOTS programs and their acres as of Sept 22, 2006, are: CREP/Coverlocks, 13,941; Native Forest, 14,223; Wetland Reserve Program incentive, 6,434; Beginning Farmer, 2,720; Tree Planting cost-share 3,177; and Food plots, 1,247.

Just recently, the Game and Fish Department completed its first Community Match contract, which allows local businesses, chambers of commerce, city councils and wildlife clubs to work with interested landowners and provide an incentive payment in addition to standard PLOTS payments. The tract in southern Dickey County is 635 acres and was made possible through the efforts of the local Pheasants Forever chapter, the landowner, and businesses and individuals from the community of Ellendale.

The money to fund the PLOTS program comes from hunters, and Game and Fish personal are tasked with implementing the programs in the hunters’ best interest.

PLOTS will continue to evolve, but all entities with a stake in the future of North Dakota’s rich hunting heritage understand that no single program or tract of land will by itself preserve this tradition.

Hunters must also continue to make a concerted effort to build relationships with private landowners, and work to maintain and enhance both state and federal public lands. More options will mean better chances that our experiences will match our expectations.

Across the nation more than 36 million acres are enrolled in CRP. Farmers and ranchers have planted grasses and trees in formerly cropped fields and along fragile riparian lands along rivers and streams slowing erosion and limiting harmful runoff into waterways and increasing water quality. After more than 20 years the benefits of CRP apply to an array of species, land and water.

A program such as CP 37 will probably never be known as widely as WD-40, but similar to the little yellow can, the uses and benefits of CP 37 are well beyond the financial incentive to landowners and benefit to ducks. It's another small part of the legacy which has made CRP so successful.

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Pistol Pete

I think getting something like that PLOTS going is great. I do want you to realize something. Even though you say "we" the tax payers are renting the land we should be able to hunt it. Look at your laws. If land is rented permission to hunt it must be gotton from BOTH partys. The land owner and rhe land renter. More public hunting land is needed, do not get me wrong. I love to hunt, that is why I am choosing to put more of my land in CRP. I've been farming for over 30 years and my debt load is finally down where I can afford to put some land in CRP even though I can get more else where. Some people can't do that. Give the farmer an extra $$ to open up CRP to public hunting and you may be surprized as to how many acres will open up for everybody.

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Augusta

Pistol,

Thanks for your feedback and support of some type of PLOTS program, we need more people, farmers and sportsman alike to come together to support this type of idea. I will tell you this, farmers should not expect sportsman to support the CRP program when the sportman are denied access to hunt. We NEED to work together on this issue, or simpy put, the CRP program will be no more. Non farmers and non sportsman outnumber our groups by a huge margin. We cannot afford this petty bickering amongst ourselves. If we do,say goodbye to a good thing for both of us and I will say this, As a sportsman, I personally will not support the CRP program "as is". The CRP program has cost the taxpayers a huge amount of money, and without some type of access program, I will vote to put the money into programs that will give ALL taxpayers equal access just like the WMA'S.

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Augusta

Quote:

Why didn't CRP result in Million Bird harvests like soil bank?? We converted too many wetlands, pasture, and odd areas to row crops in the years between.

For every acre of CRP enrolled 3 acres of other "odd" land was converted to row crop agriculture. It's amazing the populations could even stay stable much less increase 34% over the 1968-1985 average with the
Loss
of 3.6 million productive pheasant acres from 1987 to 1997.

From the Long Range Pheasant Plan at

During the peak of CRP enrollment in Minnesota (1987-97), about 1.2 million acres of cropland in the pheasant range was retired, 95% of which was planted to grass.

Applying the models, we expected an extra 1.1 million birds in the population (1.2 million acres x 95% grass x 1 bird/grass acre) and 275,000 roosters in the harvest (1.1

million birds x 1 rooster harvested/4 pheasants in population). In reality, average harvest increased by only 62,200 compared to the period before CRP (1974-86), which

suggests that CRP added only about 1 bird per 4 acres of habitat. However, CRP was frequently disturbed ("emergency" haying was common). Furthermore, for every acre of

CRP established during 1987-97, about 3 acres of hay, small grains, and pasture were lost. These alternate habitats produce only about 1/4 the chicks as CRP. If the negative effects of losing these alternate habitats are subtracted, it appears that CRP added about 1 bird/acre.


I am going to repost this post simply because I really think eveyone needs to click on the link and read it. It contains some very good information.

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Hammer Handle

I agree the PLOTS program is great. More money for the farmer is great too.

Right now, farmers get in the program for they feel they are doing something good for the wildlife and sometimes for their own hunting...not for the $$. You may be able to swing some over with more $$ offered.

But, if the farmer has already paid for all the grass seed, trees or whatever has been planted and maintain the land...and you want to open it up to the public for hunting...that will be very very tough. It would take a lot more $$ to sway them over. Remember, many are not in it for the money. If the CRP program dies, they will just rent the land out. Why not? More money, and they can still have the freedom to hunt and use the land without the public interfering.

Look at all the issues with hunters on public land? I don't see many farmers that are hunters that want to deal with this. Unlike ND, most of the farmers here hunt. And, if the CRP land happens to touch a lake (like some of ours), then what?

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kobear

Let's be sure we're comparing apples and apples. If I farm my land I get $24 an acre in Direct Counter Cyclical payments. If the crop price falls below $X I get Loan Deficency Payments. If it's in CRP I was getting $42 an acre. Aren't we renting all cropland? We're making payments on every acre out there not just CRP it's important to realize this. If you farm 1500 acres which is common your DCP was around $36,000. And you had no CRP, bad water, no wildlife, and didn't let anyone hunt. Is this what we want, because we DO get what we pay for. If we can hunt any acres we make payments on I can hunt every acre of cropland in the US, well almost some farms are nonparticipating about 1%. When you see that commodity programs alone are spending $64 billion with another $55 billion for crop insurance ($119 billion) and CRP/WRP gets $26 billion don't some bells ring.

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Augusta

Quote:

Let's be sure we're comparing apples and apples. If I farm my land I get $24 an acre in Direct Counter Cyclical payments. If the crop price falls below $X I get Loan Deficency Payments. If it's in CRP I was getting $42 an acre. Aren't we renting all cropland? We're making payments on every acre out there not just CRP it's important to realize this. If you farm 1500 acres which is common your DCP was around $36,000. And you had no CRP, bad water, no wildlife, and didn't let anyone hunt. Is this what we want, because we DO get what we pay for. If we can hunt any acres we make payments on I can hunt every acre of cropland in the US, well almost some farms are nonparticipating about 1%. When you see that commodity programs alone are spending $64 billion with another $55 billion for crop insurance ($119 billion) and CRP/WRP gets $26 billion don't some bells ring.


All I'm going to say is "huh?" But thanks for pointing out that the taxpayer has rented $26 billion worth of land that he has no access to. smile.gif

You are comparing a "price/production" guaranteed program to the CRP program. I have reread all the previous posts and never did I read anywhere where it was mentioned that any farmer who recieved a government payment, should have his land opened to the public. Please in the future, it would be great if everyone would take time to read and understand the topic at hand.

For those who would like, I have posted below what the CRP program is. Please take special note that the CRP agreement is considered a "rental" agreement. I don't think most people realize this. The information below is taken directly, word for word from the USDA's own website.

Overview

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners. Through CRP, you can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland.

The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) makes annual rental payments based on the agriculture rental value of the land, and it provides cost-share assistance for up to 50 percent of the participant's costs in establishing approved conservation practices. Participants enroll in CRP contracts for 10 to 15 years.

Benefits

CRP protects millions of acres of American topsoil from erosion and is designed to safeguard the Nation's natural resources. By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP protects groundwater and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams. Acreage enrolled in the CRP is planted to resource-conserving vegetative covers, making the program a major contributor to increased wildlife populations in many parts of the country.

CRP Administration

FSA administers CRP, while technical support functions are provided by:

USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NCRCS);

USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service;

State forestry agencies;

Local soil and water conservation districts;

Private sector providers of technical assistance.

CRP General Sign-up

Producers can offer land for CRP general sign-up enrollment only during designated sign-up periods. For information on upcoming sign-ups, contact your local FSA office. To find your local office, visit FSA's Web site at:

CRP Continuous Sign-up

Environmentally desirable land devoted to certain conservation practices may be enrolled at any time under CRP continuous sign-up. Certain eligibility requirements still apply, but offers are not subject to competitive bidding. Further information on CRP continuous sign-up is available in the FSA fact sheet "Conservation Reserve Program Continuous Sign-up."

Eligible Producers

To be eligible for CRP enrollment, a producer must have owned or operated the land for at least 12 months prior to close of the CRP sign-up period, unless:

The new owner acquired the land due to the previous owner's death;

The ownership change occurred due to foreclosure where the owner exercised a timely right or redemption in accordance with state law; or

The circumstances of the acquisition present adequate assurance to FSA that the new owner did not require the land for the purpose of placing it in CRP.

Eligible Land

To be eligible for placement in CRP, land must be either:

Cropland (including field margins) that is planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity 4 of the previous 6 crop years from 1996 to 2001, and which is physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity; or

Certain marginal pastureland that is suitable for use as a riparian buffer or for similar water quality purposes.

Additional Cropland Requirements

In addition to the eligible land requirements, cropland must meet one of the following criteria:

Have a weighted average erosion index of 8 or higher;

Be expiring CRP acreage; or

Be located in a national or state CRP conservation priority area.

CRP Payments

FSA provides CRP participants with annual rental payments, including certain incentive payments, and cost-share assistance:

Rental Payments - In return for establishing long-term, resource-conserving covers, FSA provides annual rental payments to participants. FSA bases rental rates on the relative productivity of the soils within each county and the average dry land cash rent or cash-rent equivalent. The maximum CRP rental rate for each offer is calculated in advance of enrollment. Producers may offer land at that rate or offer a lower rental rate to increase the likelihood that their offer will be accepted.

Maintenance Incentive Payments - CRP annual rental payments may include an additional amount up to $4 per acre per year as an incentive to perform certain maintenance obligations.

Cost-share Assistance - FSA provides cost-share assistance to participants who establish approved cover on eligible cropland. The cost-share assistance can be an amount not more than 50 percent of the participants' costs in establishing approved practices.

Other Incentives - FSA may offer additional financial incentives of up to 20 percent of the annual payment for certain continuous sign-up practices.

Ranking CRP Offers

Offers for CRP contracts are ranked according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). FSA collects data for each of the EBI factors based on the relative environmental benefits for the land offered. Each eligible offer is ranked in comparison to all other offers and selections made from that ranking. FSA uses the following EBI factors to assess the environmental benefits for the land offered:

Wildlife habitat benefits resulting from covers on contract acreage;

Water quality benefits from reduced erosion, runoff, and leaching;

On-farm benefits from reduced erosion;

Benefits that will likely endure beyond the contract period;

Air quality benefits from reduced wind erosion; and

Cost.

For More Information

For more information on CRP, contact your local FSA office.

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kobear

Your comments previously Augusta,

"But thanks for pointing out that the taxpayer has rented $26 billion worth of land that he has no access to."

""Lease the land" Haven't we as taxpayers already done that by signing a lease agreement (CRP Contract)?"

"The CRP program has cost the taxpayers a huge amount of money, and without some type of access program, I will vote to put the money into programs that will give ALL taxpayers equal access just like the WMA'S."

"I am also disheartned when I ask for permission to hunt the CRP, I am denied due to "only my family hunts there", or "I have it leased to someone", or " I don't let people hunt my land". As a taxpayer who is paying the farmer "rent" on this land in the form of a CRP payment, I get a little "rankled" by the fact that as a taxpayer, I've been paying this farmer to have his own private "hunting" preserve. Now many of you may disagree with that statment, but put in in perpective, we the taxpayers are "renting" this land through a lease type program, but we have no rights to the land even though we have it rented."

It definitely sounds like you believe the public deserves access to these acres BECAUSE a payment is made on them. THEREFORE we should have access to any acres a payment is made on right? Why just CRP acres that give us side benefits like clean water, wildlife, carbon storage etc.and not GOVERNMENT SUPPORTED AG acres? Exactly who do you work for Augusta? Let me guess you are paid by farmers to run economic simulations. How many farmers in CRP pay you?

And the government paid 119 Billion on land I have no access to, and it only killed more fish mad.gif.

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Hammer Handle

(clap clap)

A round of applause for kobear. I was thinking the same thing, but didn't know how to word it.

I think I am going to speed home now. And I better not get a ticket, for I pay that officer's salary!

Hmmm, I have no kids...but I pay taxes for school. I think I am going to enroll my dog as I do pay taxes! laugh.gif

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Don't support the CRP program if you want or wish for it to change, that is your right.

But, don't get mad for you can't use the land directly and others can even though you "rent" the land through taxes. There are many indirect ways this CRP land is helping MN and its residents and wildlife. The sad thing is, much of it is "going away" and the impact could be great.

Allowing public access and giving the farmer more $$ may help...but I really don't think so. How many land owners apply for a turkey license and check the little box that says they will open their land to other turkey hunters?

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CodyDawg

I didnt bother reading this whole thread, but here is the deal. CRP was a payment for a specific purpose and that purpose does not include hunter access. If hunter access is tied to it, many people will not enroll in CRP. Also, CRP is a federal program....do you really want the feds involved in state hunter access programs? I dont. Separate the programs. CRP is CRP and hunter access is hunter access.

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Dotch

Quote:

I didnt bother reading this whole thread, but here is the deal. CRP was a payment for a specific purpose and that purpose does not include hunter access. If hunter access is tied to it, many people will not enroll in CRP. Also, CRP is a federal program....do you really want the feds involved in state hunter access programs? I dont. Separate the programs. CRP is CRP and hunter access is hunter access.


Bravo! Even without reading the whole thing, you summed it up about as concisely as it could be done. Get the feds involved and it's more apt to be one size fits all for each state. Might work in ND where land values don't fluctuate as wildly from area to area. However, in a state as diverse as MN, offering the same incentive to a guy whose land is valued at $4000 per acre versus one whose land is valued at half that won't fly. There was an article not too long ago about what the DNR was considering proposing but can't place where I saw it. Maybe Outdoor Snooze.

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Hammer Handle

I am willing to bet that 80% of people enrolled in CRP will drop out if it allowed hunter access without permission...no matter what amount of $$ increase was proposed.

Anyway, many people are getting out now too. More money for crops and people are not being enrolled. Especially in Douglas and Ottertail County.

This could greatly impact the pheasant and turkey population...but we will have to see.

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sparcebag

Going back under the plow

Tom Cherveny West Central Tribune

Published Saturday, November 24, 2007

WILLMAR — Farmers in west central Minnesota are not rushing to convert Conservation Reserve Program lands back into crop production as fast as some had feared, but a significant amount of acres are being converted.

The Farm Service Agency is estimating that state-wide, farmers have renewed contracts on about 85 percent of the acres that were up for renewal on Sept. 30, said Greg Anderson, conservation director for the Minnesota FSA office.

The Agency estimates that contracts on roughly 382,000 acres were up for renewal, and that over 317,000 of the acres were either re-enrolled under new contracts for 10 years or extended for lesser periods.

The Conservation Reserve Program makes possible this buffer strip along a Renville County ditch south of Bird Island. Some farmers are not renewing CRP contracts and returning the lands to crop production due to higher corn and soybean prices. It is also becoming harder to interest farmers in enrolling new lands in CRP. Despite the offer of bonuses, a recent effort to interest farmers in the Shakopee Creek watershed in Kandiyohi County to enroll lands for ditch buffers found no takers. (Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny)

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Although it varies county-by-county, it is believed that farmers in the nine-county area around Willmar are re-enrolling acres at roughly the same rate as the state average. The counties include Big Stone, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Meeker, Pope, Renville, Swift, and Yellow Medicine.

The enrollment of marginal farmlands in the popular conservation program is credited with improving the outdoor environment of the region. CRP acres of perennial grasses and cover provide habitat for wildlife and reduce the nutrients and erosion reaching waterways.

There’s no overstating the value of CRP lands to wildlife in the region.

“It’s extremely important,’’ said Jeff Miller, assistant wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Willmar.

Miller remembers making annual, summertime roadside surveys of pheasants and driving for 25 miles before he’d spot a ringneck. Since the introduction of CRP, the numbers of pheasants in the county has rebounded dramatically, he noted.

A spike in corn prices this year, followed by greatly improved prices for soybeans and wheat as well, has led many to worry. They have feared that farmers would not renew contracts and put the CRP grasslands back into row crop production.

That’s exactly what is being seen in many areas, particularly to the west, according to Matt Holland, director of conservation for Pheasants Forever in Minnesota. Holland recently returned from a hunting trip to the Watertown, S.D., area. Everywhere he traveled in eastern South Dakota, he saw evidence of CRP grasslands having been plowed and prepared for crop production.

In this region, the CRP renewal period that ended Sept. 30 shows that the conversion rate isn’t as dramatic.

A case in point is Lac qui Parle County, where contracts for nearly 3,000 CRP acres expired on Sept. 30. Farmers re-enrolled or extended contracts on 2,520 acres, reported Don Tweet, director of the FSA office in Lac qui Parle County. He said 480 acres were not renewed.

Another area county with sizeable amounts of CRP acreage is Pope County.

There were 3,156.5 acres of CRP land up for renewal on Sept. 30 in Pope County. Some 1,512.2 acres — or nearly half — were not renewed, but the net loss in conservation lands is not nearly as large as these numbers would indicate, according to Grant Herfindahl, FSA director in the county.

Herfindahl stated that 868 acres of land were added in an earlier, general sign-up period for the program. Also, farmers enrolled another 341.7 acres in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program.

As a result, the net loss of lands in conservation programs in the county totals 302.5 acres.

Pope County has nearly 50,000 acres enrolled in CRP, so even the loss of 1,500 acres only equates to a three percent loss, he added.

Statewide, there are 1,767,958.7 acres of land enrolled in CRP in total, according to Jim Meisenheimer with the FSA state office in St. Paul.

There are certain pockets in the state where significant CRP acreage was not renewed on Sept. 30, according to Anderson.

But overall, he said “we have not seen any big drop off.’’

A variety of factors come into play, but Anderson said it’s apparent that many landowners are using the program for its intended purpose: “Farm the best and buffer the rest.’’

He said most of the CRP acres are marginal lands, and consequently farmers are cautious about putting those lands back into production despite higher commodity prices. Most know the perils of adding to their production costs when banking on expectations of continued, high-commodity prices.

Nonetheless, there is no question that the improved prices for Minnesota’s main crops are influencing decisions on conservation programs. It is proving more difficult to interest farmers in enrolling new lands in conservation programs, said the DNR’s Miller.

He works with three different watershed groups, including the Shakopee Creek Headwaters Project. It has been offering bonuses to farmers willing to enroll lands in conservation programs to serve as buffer and filter strips for waterways. Despite the incentives and an advertising campaign, there have been no takers, he said.

Holland also offers a note of caution as CRP lands come up for renewal in 2008 and the years beyond. He is hoping that the new farm bill now under debate in Congress will continue to provide the incentives needed, or the loss of CRP acres will only increase.

Pheasant numbers in Minnesota are at a 40-year high. There is no question that CRP has played the biggest role in making that possible, said Holland. If farmers continue to convert more CRP land into production, the losses will be felt by all wildlife. Holland said that the loss of one-third or one-fourth of the CRP land in the state would have a “significant,’’ adverse impact on the populations of wildlife.

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grab the net

That is good news, I guess the sky isn't falling. I just saw quite abit in a concentrated area that I am familiar with. Overall we just have to hope for a good farm bill that promotes CRP usage.

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Pistol Pete

I just recieved my propesed real estate tax papers for 2008. Crp contracts are for 10 or 15 years, flat rate payments. No increases. Next year the taxes go up on everything from a low of 12% to a high of 30.8%. Perhaps if crp contracts stepped up every 3 years or so people would stay in the programs longer. 12-30% is not cheap. Crp rates have not gone up that much in 10 years. More and more federal programs are being cut at the local level so more tax burden is being put upon the land locally to make up for it. There is no easy answer or one that everybody will agree on. But CRP does help bird and othe animal survive and gives them a place to rest and raise young. No matter how you feel about the program as sportmen and women we should ALL support it, like it or not. Wouldn't it be nice if the anti's spent there money on habitat instead of harassment?? They spend millions trying to stop us from hunting but I never see them spend on habatit. Instead of us hashing at each other lets stand beside each other and fight the real enemy. Crp does help wildlife. Without it things will not get better. If you do not own the land in a crp contract do not expext to have access to it either. Yes you are renting it but you do not own it. If and when I can retire and do rent my farm out the renter will not have hunting rights. He has the right to farm the land, not hunt it. Crp is the same. It is farmed in grass, but no hunting rights. You may not like it and if you don't then complain to the right people and get the law changed. I gaurantee you there will be acreage lost in the program. Have a program where you have a option to let hunters access the crp and it will work. Especially with incentives for access.

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sparcebag

Pistol could'nt have said it better! I've already contacted officials to support CRP.I have no land to put in the program,I dont farm.But I do support the land owners rights to control their own land.A knock on a door to ask is not out of my way,its to my benefit,I may make a friend.And YES CRP should have payments that do increase with cost of living!! Its only fair!

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