From this story by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel outdoors writer Paul Smith:
_One of America's landmark conservation programs turned 25 last week. In a sign of the times, it was an anniversary marked by as much uncertainty as hope. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has been hailed as the nation's most important and successful program of its kind, protecting water quality and soils, and creating habitat for a diverse mix of wildlife. It was signed into law Dec. 23, 1985, by President Ronald Reagan. The voluntary program allows farmers, ranchers and other landowners to use their environmentally-sensitive land for conservation benefits. As a result, CRP protects millions of acres of America's topsoil from erosion and provides benefits to water quality and wildlife.
_"(CRP) is also critically important to the economy of rural America and our nation's outdoor traditions," said Dave Nomsen, vice president of government affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. "But its future is far from guaranteed." Landowners receive payments - about $2 billion annually - through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to participate in the program. About 31 million acres are enrolled nationally, down from 38 million in 2007. The 2008 Farm Bill capped the program at 32 million acres.