USDA reopens continuous CRP sign-up

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications beginning June 3, 2019, for certain practices under the continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up and will offer extensions for expiring CRP contracts. The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized CRP, one of the country’s largest conservation programs.

“USDA offers a variety of conservation programs to farmers and ranchers, and the Conservation Reserve Program is an important tool for private lands management,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “CRP allows agricultural producers to set aside land to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and boost soil health.”

FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the continuous CRP signup when 2014 Farm Bill authority expired. Since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill last December, Fordyce said FSA has carefully analyzed the language and determined that a limited signup prioritizing water-quality practices furthers conservation goals and makes sense for producers as FSA works to fully implement the program.

Continuous CRP Sign-up

This year’s signup will include such practices as grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices approved for this program.

Continuous signup enrollment contracts are 10 to 15 years in duration. Soil rental rates will be set at 90 percent of the existing rates. Incentive payments will not be offered for these contracts.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Sign-up

FSA will also reopen signup for existing Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) agreements. Fact sheets on current CREP agreements are available on this webpage.

Other CRP Sign-up Options

Fordyce said FSA plans to open a CRP general signup in December 2019 and a CRP Grasslands signup later.

CRP Contract Extensions

A one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants who have expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter describing their options.

Alternatively, producers with expiring contracts may have the option to enroll in the Transition Incentives Program, which provides two additional annual rental payments on the condition the land is sold or rented to a beginning farmer or rancher or a member of a socially disadvantaged group.

Wheat groups applaud FSA action

The Washington Association of Wheat Growers joins the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) in applauding FSA’s announcement to extend CRP contracts. We commend the agency for recognizing the need to provide producers an option to extend contracts by allowing for one-year extensions to existing CRP participants who have expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less.

In Washington state, nearly 190,000 acres of CRP is set to expire in 2019. More than 195,000 acres is set to expire in 2020.

“CRP is an important conservation program option for many of our members and we appreciate that FSA is proactively taking steps to allow for contract extensions. This action is especially important if FSA will not hold a general sign-up before contracts expire this year,” stated NAWG President and Lavon, Texas, farmer Ben Scholz in a press release. “We encourage USDA to move quickly implement the 2018 Farm Bill and to allow enrollment options for producers in all the conservation programs.

“Growers are on their land every day and know more than anyone else what it takes to be a good steward of their land,” continued Scholz. “Farm bill conservation programs help farmers ensure that their land will be productive today, tomorrow and years to come.”