USDA opens CRP enrollment

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has opened enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program with higher payment rates, new incentives and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation.

USDA has also announced investments in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in 85 Regional Conservation Partnership Program projects and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials.

“Sometimes the best solutions are right in front of you. With CRP, the United States has one of the world’s most successful voluntary conservation programs. We need to invest in CRP and let it do what it does best — preserve topsoil, sequester carbon and reduce the impacts of climate change,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “We also recognize that we can’t do it alone. We will engage leaders from all around the world to partner with us on addressing climate change. Here at home, we’re working in partnership with producers and local organizations through USDA programs to bring new voices and communities to the table to help combat climate change.”

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Conservation Reserve Program

USDA’s goal is to enroll up to 4 million new acres in CRP by raising rental payment rates and expanding the number of incentivized environmental practices allowed under the program. CRP is a powerful tool when it comes to climate mitigation, and acres currently enrolled in the program mitigate more than 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. If USDA reaches its enrollment goal, it will mitigate an additional 3 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent and prevent 90 million pounds of nitrogen and 33 million tons of sediment from running into our waterways each year.

“We want to make sure CRP continues to be a valuable and effective conservation resource for our producers for decades to come,” said Vilsack. “USDA will continue to find new and creative ways of putting producers and landowners at the center of climate-smart practices that generate revenue and benefit our planet.”


New Climate-Smart Practice Incentive

To target the program on climate change mitigation, FSA has introduced a new Climate-Smart Practice Incentive for CRP general and continuous signups that aims to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate-Smart CRP practices include establishment of trees and permanent grasses, development of wildlife habitat and wetland restoration. The CSPI is annual, and the amount is based on the benefits of each practice type.