Introduction – Conservation Reserve Program Payments
What are USDA CRP payments? In short, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a USDA program that pays to protect natural land. More broadly speaking, the CRP pays landowners to establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland.
The program includes a Climate-Smart Practice Incentive to help increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by helping producers and landowners establish trees and permanent grasses.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is voluntary. The paying entity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a branch of the federal government, which offers a range of conservation options to farmers, ranchers, and landowners.
Size Of CRP Payments
The U.S. average CRP rental rate is $83 per acre, including an average of $54 per acre for land enrolled under General CRP contracts, $137 per acres for Continuous CRP land, and $180 per acre for land enrolled in CREP (see below for what is CREP).
General CRP contracts offer an average of $54 per acre in rental payments. Continuous CRP land offers an average of $137 per acre in rental payments. Land enrolled in CREP offers an average of $180 per acre in rental payments.
The average CRP rental rate varies by state. We include figures below from a subset of states.
|State||Average CRP Rate||General CRP Rate||Continuous CRP Rate|
|Illinois||$202 per acre||–||–|
|Indiana||$192 per acre||–||–|
|Iowa||$229 per acre||$166 per acre||$254 per acre|
|Minnesota||$140 per acre||$88 per acre||$163 per acre|
|Montana||$29 per acre||–||–|
|Nebraska||$58 per acre||–||–|
|North Dakota||$52 per acre|
|South Dakota||$75 per acre||–||–|
|Wisconsin||$159 per acre||–||–|
Comparing the CRP rates to revenues from staple crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat highlights the difference in potential earnings.
In 2020-2021, corn and soybeans generated an average revenue of about $673 and $545 per acre, and wheat offered an average revenue of around $250 per acre, surpassing the CRP rates.
Why Anyone Would Want To Apply For CRP
Given that the revenue from even the lowest value crop exceeds CRP payments, why would anyone want to use the CRP program? Farmers may opt for USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) payments instead of farming the land for several reasons.
Firstly, CRP payments provide a stable and guaranteed income source.
Secondly, enrolling in the CRP allows farmers to improve soil health, reduce soil erosion, and enhance water quality on their land, which can result in better long-term agricultural productivity.
Lastly, participating in the CRP program contributes to environmental conservation efforts.
A perfect candidate for the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) would be a farmer who:
- Owns or operates environmentally sensitive or marginal agricultural land.
- Is committed to sustainable land management practices.
- Can benefit from a stable, guaranteed income source through CRP payments.
- Is willing to take land out of active agricultural production for a specific period, typically 10-15 years.
- Seeks to improve the long-term health and productivity of their land.
In the context of agriculture and land management, “marginal” refers to land that has limited agricultural productivity or economic value due to various factors.
In the case of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), converting marginal land to conservation uses can be a more sustainable and economically beneficial alternative for farmers.
Estimating the Economic Impact of CRP
Short-Term Economic Impact On Farm Income
Immediately after enrollment in the CRP, farmers might experience a decrease in farm income due to a reduction in land available for crop production. However, the compensatory CRP payments are designed to alleviate this. For example, if a farmer enrolls 10% of their arable land into the CRP, there might be a proportionate drop in crop output. Still, CRP payments could offset 60-80% of that lost income, providing farmers with financial stability during this transition.
Long-Term Economic Impact
Soil Fertility and Yield: Land that has been under the CRP usually benefits from rejuvenated soil health. Once it’s put back into production after a CRP term, these plots might yield 10-20% more crops than before, thanks to the healthier soils. This translates into increased income for the farmers.
Reduced Input Costs: With improved soil health, there could be a decrease in the dependency on fertilizers or pesticides. Over the years, this might result in a 5-10% reduction in input costs for the farmer, further enhancing profit margins.
Overview Of Application And Enrollment
Producers and landowners enroll in the CRP from February through April 7, 2023. FSA is aiming to reach the 27-million-acre cap statutorily set for fiscal year 2023.
Producers and landowners can participate in a variety of Continuous CRP opportunities, such as the Clean Lakes Estuaries and Rivers
They can also take advantage of the Climate-Smart Practice Incentive to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
There Are Three Types Of CRPs: General, Continuous, And Grassland
Long-term, resource-conserving plant species help producers and landowners protect their land and natural resources while also providing economic benefits.
Through the CRP, eligible producers and landowners receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish conservation covers on eligible cropland.
These covers help reduce soil erosion and runoff, which in turn help improve water quality and protect wildlife habitat.
Producers and landowners benefit from improved water quality through the CRP by establishing conservation covers.
This protects aquatic species and maintain healthy aquatic conditions.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) offers a variety of options for agricultural producers and private landowners to invest in the long-term well-being of their land and natural resources.
The Continuous CRP provides additional opportunities for producers and landowners to enroll in the program.
The CLEAR30 Initiative provides producers and landowners with the chance to enroll in 30-year CRP contracts for water quality practices.
Through the SAFE Initiative, producers and landowners have more opportunities to participate in the program.
The FWP allows landowners to enroll land in CRP as part of their efforts to restore previously farmed wetlands and wetland buffers.
The CREP was updated to reduce barriers and make the program more accessible to a broad range of producers and new types of partners.
For the first time ever, three Tribal Nations are now partnering with USDA to help conserve, maintain, and improve grassland productivity, reduce soil erosion, and enhance wildlife habitat.
One of the programs offered is the Grassland CRP, which has been designed to help landowners and operators protect grasslands, including rangeland and pastureland, while still allowing them to maintain working grazing lands.
The Grassland CRP is a working lands program which offers a variety of benefits to landowners and operators, such as improving the economy of many regions, providing biodiversity of plant and animal populations, and providing important carbon sequestration benefits.
Protecting grasslands is an important part of the Grassland CRP program.
This includes planting approved grasses or trees, as well as establishing trees and permanent grasses which help to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, the program offers incentives for producers and landowners to restore previously farmed wetlands and wetland buffers, which help to improve both vegetation and water flow.
Signing Up In 2023
The signup runs from February 27 to April 7, 2023, and those interested should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more or to apply for the program before their deadlines.
To contact a local USDA Service Center, producers and landowners should contact a local USDA service center.
By doing so, producers and landowners get information about the program, learn about eligibility requirements, and find out more information about enrolling in the program.
Transition Incentives Program
For producers with expiring CRP acres, the Transition Incentives Program (TIP) is available to incentivize producers who sell or enter a long-term lease with a beginning, veteran, or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher who plans to sustainably farm or ranch the land.
TIP provides additional opportunities for those interested in enrolling in the CRP program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a cornerstone voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers and private landowners protect and improve the long-term well-being of their land and natural resources.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary conservation program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that helps producers and landowners establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland.
General CRP includes a Climate-Smart Practice Incentive to help increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Starting February 27 through April 7, 2023, agricultural producers and private landowners begin applying for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General signup.
Through this signup, producers and landowners enroll more than 5 million acres into CRP, aiming to reach the 27-million-acre cap statutorily set for fiscal year 2023.
Enrolling in the CRP provides a range of benefits, including controlling soil erosion, improving water quality, and enhancing wildlife habitat.
The Climate-Smart Practice Incentive helps producers and landowners establish trees and permanent grasses to help increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Finally the Transition Incentives Program (TIP) incentivizes producers who sell or enter a long-term lease with a beginning, veteran, or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher.
Anna Lauer is a writer, gardener, and homesteader living in rural Wisconsin. She has written for Mother Earth News, Grit, and Hobby Farms magazines. Anna is writing a new book about growing your food for free and an ultimate guide to producing food at little to no cost. When she’s not writing or gardening, Anna enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters.