USDA Evaluating Possible Changes To CRP Program

Let USDA officials know what you think; public comment period ends Jan. 13, 2014.

Published on: Dec 23, 2013

FAQ: I hear rumors USDA is going to drastically reduce the amount of acres in the Conservation Reserve Program? Why do that to such a successful program?

Answer: USDA is conducting a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, or SPEIS, for the Conservation Reserve Program -- the popular conservation program commonly known as CRP. USDA is looking at making possible changes in the program, which is part of the 2008 Farm Bill. Those potential changes include:

* Reducing CRP enrollment by 20% to 25% over the next five years

* Changing the enrollment cap on the Farmable Wetlands Program

* Reducing incentives for tree thinning; evaluating processes for the continuous signup; adding flexibility for haying and grazing; and transitioning acres coming out of CRP to other USDA soil and water conservation programs. The public comment period ends January 13, 2014.

POSSIBLE CHANGES: One of the changes USDA is looking at making in the Conservation Reserve Program is to reduce the enrollment by 20% to 25% over the next five years. Faced with looming budget cuts, USDA is also looking at reducing some of the incentives for enrolling in various practices covered under CRP.
POSSIBLE CHANGES: One of the changes USDA is looking at making in the Conservation Reserve Program is to reduce the enrollment by 20% to 25% over the next five years. Faced with looming budget cuts, USDA is also looking at reducing some of the incentives for enrolling in various practices covered under CRP.

CRP is a voluntary program that supports using long-term conservation measures designed to improve the quality of groundwater and surface waters, control soil erosion and enhance wildlife habitat on environmentally sensitive agricultural land. In return, USDA provides participants with rental payments and cost share assistance under contracts that extend from 10 to 15 years. CRP is a CCC program administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency with support of other federal, state and local agencies and organizations.

Reminder: applications for Conservation Stewardship program due Jan. 17

Another popular USDA conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, or CSP, is now open for new enrollments for federal fiscal year 2014. Now through Jan. 17, 2014, producers interested in participating in the program can submit applications to NRCS.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

"Through the Conservation Stewardship Program, farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners are going the extra mile to conserve our nation's resources," says NRCS Chief Jason Weller. "Through their conservation actions, they are ensuring that their operations are more productive and sustainable over the long run."

The CSP is an important farm bill conservation program that helps established conservation stewards with taking their natural resource management to the next level to improve both their ag production and provide valuable conservation benefits such as cleaner and more abundant water, as well as healthier soils and better wildlife habitat.

NRCS has partnered with producers to enroll more than 59 million acres across the nation. The program emphasizes conservation performance -- producers earn higher payments for higher performance. In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy.

To be eligible for 2014 enrollment, get your application to NRCS by closing date

Eligible landowners and operators in all states can enroll in CSP through Jan. 17 to be eligible during the 2014 federal fiscal year. While local NRCS offices accept CSP applications year round, NRCS evaluates applications during announced ranking periods. To be eligible for this year's enrollment farmers must have their applications submitted to NRCS by the closing date.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help farmers determine if the program is suitable for their farming operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types. Learn more about CSP by visiting the NRCS website or a local NRCS field office.