Conservation and hunting groups are feeling the effects of losing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) ground to crop production. Ducks Unlimited (DU) recently reported North Dakota lost enough wildlife habitat in just one year to cover a three-mile swath from the southern border to Canada. In total, 420,000 acres of CRP ground in North Dakota was tilled in 2007 for crop production. It is 12% of the state's total CRP ground.
“The rental rates paid for enrolling in CRP simply do not compete with what producers can get today by renting out the land for cropping or by farming it themselves,” reports Scott McLeod, with DU's Great Plains regional office.
CRP land is credited with fostering the development of more than two million ducks a year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. “Conservation is in for a long swim against a strong current when trying to fight the tide of land rolling out of CRP,” states Jim Ringelman, DU's director of conservation programs in the Prairie Pothole Region.