Enrollment for general CRP is currently open until February 12. However, this isn’t the only way to join the Conservation Reserve Program. Two other popular programs within CRP are Continuous CRP and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).
General CRP, CCRP, and CREP are very similar for the most part. All of them are conservation programs overseen by USDA, with both FSA and NRCS assisting with different aspects. All programs also share the same goals of improving soil quality, establishing wildlife habitat, reducing runoff, and protecting local water supplies. They do this by taking farmland out of active row crop production and establishing perennial vegetation in exchange for monthly rental payments.
Each program has different conservation practices (CP) that you can select from. This will determine what type of vegetation you establish. For example, CP2 falls under general CRP and focuses on establishing native grasses and legumes. Both CCRP and CREP offer similar options.
However, despite all of the similarities, there are some key differences that are important to understand when planning to enroll in one of these programs.
As you might expect from the name, general CRP is the primary offering of the Conservation Reserve Program. Enrollment is typically available for a select period of time. For 2021, enrollment runs from January 4 – February 12. During this time, interested parties may submit bids to earn a contract.
Bids are scored according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) and then ranked against other submissions. The higher your score is, the more likely you are to receive a contract.
Your EBI score is determined by six primary factors:
- Wildlife habitat benefits
- Water quality benefits
- On-farm benefits for reducing erosion
- Benefits that will likely endure beyond the contract period
- Air quality benefits from reduced wind erosion
The CP you select impacts a number of these factors. Because of this, choosing the right CP is one of the most important decisions when it comes to maximizing your EBI score. To learn more about how CP selection affects your EBI score, click here. Additionally, the seed mix you choose to establish can affect your score.
For a more in-depth breakdown of the Environmental Benefits Index, make sure to read our previous post.
CCRP is a little more specialized than general CRP, focusing on land deemed environmentally sensitive. Unlike general CRP, CCRP doesn’t utilize a bidding system. As long as applicants meet the necessary requirements, they are automatically accepted in the program. Additionally, enrollment for CCRP stays open as long as there are still acres available.
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
While general CRP and CCRP are strictly federal programs, CREP is a joint initiative between federal and state governments. Because of this, CREP participants can sometimes enjoy additional incentives, higher cost-share reimbursement rates, etc.
CREP isn’t available everywhere, however. States that currently offer CREP include:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Like CCRP, CREP doesn’t use a bidding system, and enrollment stays open as long as acres are available.
Getting Started in CRP
Applying to CRP can be done through your local FSA office. They can also help answer some of the questions you have. Once you’ve successfully enrolled in a CP, one of the first things you’ll need to do is purchase CRP seed mix. You don’t want to purchase CRP seed from just any seed company.
CRP has special requirements for their seed mixes to ensure they’re inspected for noxious weeds and native to the environment where they’re being planted. You will also want to be mindful of purity and germination rates. The higher these numbers are, the higher the seed quality is.
At All Native Seed, all of our seed is reprocessed for enhanced purity and tested for noxious weeds such as Palmar amaranth. Our custom mixes have been tested and refined across over 370,000 acres of CRP, ensuring that they achieve the highest establishment rates possible. Additionally, we can provide quotes for seed mixes created by NRCS.
If you haven’t enrolled in CRP yet, and you’re trying to decide where to begin, our parent company FDCE can help. FDCE offers full-service CRP solutions. In addition to helping you select and enroll in a CP, they also take care of seed purchasing, planting, herbicide application, and report submission to FSA. Thanks to CRP’s cost-share elements, their services practically pay for themselves.
For more information on FDCE’s services, click here.