Conservation Reserve Program
What is the Conservation Reserve Program?
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners. Through CRP, landowners can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term vegetative cover practices on eligible farmland.
The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) makes annual rental payments based on the agriculture rental value of the land and provides cost-share assistance for up to 50% of the participant’s costs in establishing approved conservation practices. Participants enroll in CRP contracts for 10 to 15 years.
Benefits of the Conservation Reserve Program
CRP encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland to vegetative covers, such as tame or native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filterstrips or riparian buffers. Therefore, it protects millions of acres of American topsoil from erosion and is designed to conserve our natural resources. It reduces soil erosion, sedimentation in streams and lakes and water runoff, which protects groundwater and helps improve water quality in Indiana’s rivers, lakes and streams. The vegetative covers establish wildlife habitat and therefore contribute to increased wildlife populations.
Details of CRP
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers CRP while technical support functions are provided by:
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture
- Department of Natural Resources
- Local soil and water conservation Districts
- Private sector providers of technical assistance
- To be eligible for CRP enrollment, a producer must have owned or operated the land for at least 12 months prior to close of the CRP sign-up period, unless:
- The new owner acquired the land due to the previous owner's death;
- The ownership change occurred due to foreclosure where the owner exercised a timely right or redemption in accordance with state law; or
- The circumstances of the acquisition present adequate assurance to FSA that the new owner did not require the land for the purpose of placing it in CRP.
To be eligible for placement in CRP, land must be either:
- Cropland (including field margins) that is planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity 4 of the previous 6 crop years, and which is physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity; or
- Certain marginal pastureland that is suitable for use as a riparian buffer or for similar water quality purposes.
In addition to the eligible land requirements, cropland must meet one of the following criteria:
- Have a weighted average erosion index of 8 or higher;
- Be expiring CRP acreage; or
- Be located in a national or state CRP conservation priority area.
FSA provides CRP participants with annual rental payments, including certain incentive payments, and cost-share assistance:
- Rental Payments - In return for establishing long-term, resource-conserving covers, FSA provides annual rental payments to participants. FSA bases rental rates on the relative productivity of the soils within each county and the average dry land cash rent or cash-rent equivalent. The maximum CRP rental rate for each offer is calculated in advance of enrollment. Producers may offer land at that rate or offer a lower rental rate to increase the likelihood that their offer will be accepted.
- Maintenance Incentive Payments - For certain continuous signup practices, CRP annual rental payments may include an additional amount up to $5 per acre per year as an incentive to perform certain maintenance obligations.
- Cost-share Assistance - FSA provides cost-share assistance to participants who establish approved cover on eligible cropland. The cost-share assistance can be an amount not more than 50 percent of the participants' costs in establishing approved practices.
- Other Incentives - FSA may offer additional financial incentives of up to 20 percent of the annual payment for certain continuous sign-up practices.
Offers for CRP contracts are ranked according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). FSA collects data for each of the EBI factors based on the relative environmental benefits for the land offered. Each eligible offer is ranked in comparison to all other offers and selections made from that ranking. FSA uses the following EBI factors to assess the environmental benefits for the land offered:
- Wildlife habitat benefits resulting from covers on contract acreage;
- Water quality benefits from reduced erosion, runoff, and leaching;
- On-farm benefits from reduced erosion;
- Benefits that will likely endure beyond the contract period;
- Air quality benefits from reduced wind erosion; and
For more information on CRP, contact your local FSA office.
Producers can offer land for CRP general sign-up enrollment only during designated sign-up periods. For more information on upcoming sign-ups, contact your local FSA office.
CRP Continuous Sign-up
Environmentally desirable land devoted to certain conservation practices may be enrolled at any time under CRP continuous sign-up. Certain eligibility requirements still apply, but offers are not subject to competitive bidding. Further information on CRP continuous sign-up is available in the FSA fact sheet “Conservation Reserve Program Continuous Sign-up”.