June 20, 2024

CRP acreage tops 1 million

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program was established by Congress in 1985.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting more than 1 million acres in this year’s Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up.

This is one of several sign-ups that USDA’s Farm Service Agency is holding for the program, and these results reflect the recognition the agricultural community gives to CRP as a resource for climate-smart agriculture that helps promote plant and animal biodiversity, as well as healthier soil. The sign-up’s results include 30,299 acres in Illinois.

While offers for new land in this general CRP sign-up totaled about 295,000 acres nationwide, producers submitted reenrollment offers for 891,000 expiring acres, reflecting the successes of participating in CRP longer term.

The total number of CRP acres will continue to climb in the coming weeks once FSA accepts acres on the Grassland CRP sign-up, which closed May 26.

Additionally, so far this year, FSA has received 761,000 offered acres for the continuous CRP sign-up, for which FSA accepts applications year-round.

The number of accepted acres that are actually enrolled in general CRP will be decided later this year.

Submitting and accepting a CRP offer is the start of the process, and producers still need to develop a conservation plan before enrolling their land on July 31.

Each year, during the window between offer acceptance and land enrollment, some producers change their mind and ultimately decide not to enroll some accepted acres without penalty.

General CRP Sign-up

The general CRP Sign-up 60 ran from Feb. 27 through April 7. Through CRP, producers and landowners establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve soil health and water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat on agricultural land.

In addition to the other well-documented benefits, lands enrolled in CRP are playing a key role in climate change mitigation efforts across the country.

In 2021, FSA introduced improvements to the program, which included a new Climate-Smart Practice Incentive to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This incentive provides a 3%, 5%, or 10% incentive payment based on the predominant vegetation type for the practices enrolled — from grasses to trees to wetland restoration.

Other CRP Sign-Ups

Grassland CRP is a working lands program that helps producers and landowners protect grassland from conversion while enabling haying and grazing activities to continue. Lands enrolled support haying and grazing operations and promotes plant and animal biodiversity.

Lands are also protected from being converted to uses other than grassland. This year’s sign-up for Grassland CRP ran from April 17 through May 26.

Under continuous CRP, producers and landowners can enroll throughout the year. Offers are automatically accepted provided the producer and land meet the eligibility requirements and the enrollment levels do not exceed the statutory cap.

Continuous CRP includes the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement Initiative, the Farmable Wetlands Program and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Also available is the Clean Lakes Estuaries and Rivers initiative.

CLEAR30, a sign-up opportunity under that initiative, was originally piloted in 12 states, but has since been expanded nationwide, giving producers and landowners across the country the opportunity to enroll in 30-year CRP contracts for water quality practices.

To learn more about FSA programs, producers can contact their local USDA Service Center. Producers also can prepare maps for acreage reporting as well as manage farm loans and view other farm records data and customer information by logging into their farmers.gov account.