What’s up with the CRP?

November 14, 2022

Are you a farmer working a portion of land that’s tough to farm? Maybe it’s on a steep hillside or it’s extra wet or it’s challenging to physically navigate. Perhaps you’ve asked yourself “I wonder if there’s a better way to manage this part of my land in a way that builds my farm’s profitability?”

Enter the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP for short)! This is a competitive, federally-funded, voluntary program that pays farmers to conserve environmentally-sensitive land instead of using it for ag production. The government offers rental payments and cost-share assistance to farmers enrolled in CRP over a 10–15 year contract period.

So who is eligible to apply for CRP?

Individual farmers, LLC’s, corporations, and land trusts may be eligible to participate. The applicant must have operated the land from February 12 2020 onward (at least one year prior to the contract sign-up deadline of Feb 12, 2021) or have inherited the land through death or succession. The applicant also must prove their control of the land for the entire duration of the 10–15 year contract (this can be shown through a lease or statement signed by the landowner) and be amenable to developing a conservation plan with the USDA to manage the contracted land.

Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash

What type of land is eligible?

Cropland that has been in commodity production at least 4 of the 6 years between 2012–2017 and that is physically and legally able to be planted with an ag commodity in a normal way (as determined by the Farm Service Agency) may be eligible. If you have an expiring CRP contract, you may also be eligible to apply.

How much money will I get per acre in rental payments?

This depends on your soil type. Reach out to our team at FarmRaise and we can share average, per-acre rental payments for your county so you can ballpark your payment.

How are CRP contracts awarded? What increases my odds of getting one?

This is a competitive program! You’ll be competing for these awards with farmers across the U.S. and will be ranked by the USDA according to an Environmental Benefits Index or EBI.

The EBI has 6 environmental factors that determine your land’s overall ability to produce high environmental outcomes. These factors include:

  • Wildlife habitat (if you’re willing to plant more diverse cover on your land, you’ll likely increase your odds of securing the award)
  • Erosion reduction (steeper land can be competitive)
  • Water quality (does your project improve clean water outcomes?)
  • Air quality (dust reduction and carbon sequestration benefits could enhance your odds)
  • Enduring benefits (will the cover you plant on CRP land endure beyond the CRP contract period?)
  • Cost (does your project optimize the environmental benefits per dollar of CRP payment?)

This list is not comprehensive! Check in with your local FSA office to learn more.

How do I apply?

You can reach out to your local FSA office to apply or check in with our team at FarmRaise to help you navigate next steps.

More resources

History of CRP

USDA Fact Sheet

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