Since taking office in January, President Biden and his administration have made it clear that sustainability and environmental protection are top priorities. While actions such as establishing a regulated carbon market could take some time to implement, the government is already expanding existing programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program.
CRP has proven to be one of the most successful voluntary conservation programs in the world. Since its creation, CRP has prevented nearly 10 billion tons of soil from eroding, has reduced nitrogen runoff by 95%, and reduced phosphorus runoff by 85%. In addition to providing vital habitat for native wildlife, CRP also sequesters 49 million tons of greenhouse gasses every year.
“Sometimes the best solutions are right in front of you,” said Tom Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture. “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.”
However, there are hurdles that keep many farmers and landowners from participating.
For some, it’s due to the complexities of enrolling and participating in CRP, but for many, it’s simply a matter of money. Over 70% of rural Americans believe that environmental conservation and protection is important to agriculture, but farmers still need to earn a living. The new administration is hoping that by increasing the incentives and rental rates offered by CRP, they can make it a more attractive option to farmers everywhere.
By expanding the program, the hope is that these statistics can be raised even higher.
Changes to CRP in 2021
Enrollees across CRP can expect to see higher payment rates and new incentives moving forward. A minimum rental rate of $15 is being established for CRP grasslands. This will benefit over 1300 counties that are currently operating below this minimum. A new Climate-Smart Practice Incentive is also being offered to practices that emphasize carbon sequestration and emission reduction.
Practices under Continuous CRP are seeing a number of enhancements as well. This includes things like an increase in Practice Incentive Payments (PIP), as well as an increased incentive for water quality protection. CRP SAFE is also being moved back under CCRP to make it a more rewarding and attractive option.
In an effort to make CRP more approachable, the USDA is increasing the capacity of NRCS. The amount of available acres for CRP enrollment is being increased as well. By 2023, there will be 27 million acres available for enrollment under CRP.
For more details on the latest CRP expansion, you can find FSA’s press release here.
Getting Started with CRP in 2021
Enrollment for both general CRP and CCRP are currently open. While it’s uncertain how long enrollment for general CRP will stay available, CCRP will remain open as long as there are acres available.
To enroll in general CRP, you will first need to make a bid. Bids are scored and ranked according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). You can learn more about improving your EBI in this post here. Enrolling in CCRP doesn’t require a bid. As long as you meet the requirements, you are automatically accepted into the program.
We understand that CRP can be a little intimidating. Simply selecting a CP and enrolling can be a lot of work, and that’s only the beginning. That’s why our parent company FDCE provides full-service CRP solutions. This includes seed purchasing, planting, herbicide application, documentation, and report submission for cost-share reimbursement.
For more information on FDCE, visit their website here.
If you simply need CRP seed, we can help. As any farmer knows, using quality seed is critical to successful establishment. CRP is no exception. That’s why we’ve spent the past 18 years perfecting the best CRP seed mixes available. In addition to our priority seed mixes that we’ve tested across 370,000 acres of CRP establishment, we can also provide quotes on seed plans developed by NRCS.