Could the new "good old days" be on the horizon for hunters in North Dakota?  The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that the general sign up for CRP beginning last December and running through the end of February will be one of the largest in recent memory.

This is due primarily to the recently passed 2018 Farm Bill expanding the cap from the  current low of around 24 million acres nationwide (of which only about 22 million are currently enrolled) to a heightened 27 million acres available to operators by 2023, and with many contracts set to expire, estimates of up to seven million acres of new CRP may be possible with the ongoing process.

With lower commodity prices because of a lower market demand for American grains and row crops like corn and soy.  This massive expansion of marginal land could benefit both landowners-farmers and sportsman alike.

CRP provides better habitat for game birds and deer in North Dakota.  Providing better spawning habitat for fish like perch and pike reliant on flooded vegetation.  CRP helps purify drinking water.  By enrolling in CRP, producers are improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and restoring habitat for wildlife. This in turn spurs hunting, fishing, recreation, tourism, and other economic development.

The Conservation Reserve Program is one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors and a critical tool to help producers better manage their operations while conserving natural resources. The program marks its 35-year anniversary in 2020, and many are hoping to see one of our largest signups in many years.

Having endured a decade or so of decreasing CRP acres, tough winter, dry summers and the impact they've had on wildlife populations for the past decade, hunters have  a reason to be optimistic for the future.

To enroll in CRP, contact your local FSA county office or visit fsa.usda.gov/crp.