Under the 2018 Farm Bill, more farmers will be able to apply for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. The bill increased the cap from 22 million to 27 million acres in 2020. Signup starts Dec. 9, 2019 and ends Feb. 28, 2020.
“The first CRP [acres] were in 1985, in 2020 we’ll celebrate [the 35th] anniversary,” said Richard Fordyce, Farm Service Agency (FSA) administrator on a recent call with journalists, including Agweb. “We’re excited for this sign up. With expiring acres and the increase in the cap, we know we have room and there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for landowners to get into the CRP program.”
The voluntary program provides annual payments to protect highly-erodible and environmentally sensitive land under 10 to 15 year contracts.
Over the past 35 years, FSA and other agencies have tracked the benefits CRP provides:
- Prevented more than nine billion tons of soil erosion
- Reduced nitrogen runoff by 95% and phosphorous runoff by 85% to annually tilled cropland
- Sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases
- Created more than three million acres of restored wetlands and protected more than 175,000 stream miles
- Benefitted wildlife such as bees, ducks, pheasants, turkey, etc.
“The evolution of CRP has really responded to the desires of the farm community and wildlife community,” Fordyce says. “We’re able to provide CRP programs that provide multiple benefits.
How many acres will be available considering continuous enrollment?
“This could be the largest sign up we’ve had in over 10 years,” says Bradley Karmen, FSA assistant deputy administrator for Farm Programs. He estimates when you subtract expiring acres and the increased cap there will be about seven million acres eligible for enrollment.
There are several enrollment options including general, continuous and grasslands signups as well as pilot programs and land transitions. For more information about CRP rental rates click here. Rental rates decreased in some counties for 2020.