The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expanding CLEAR30 to be a nationwide program. Ag producers and landowners currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) now have another option available called the Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers initiative, or CLEAR30. The initiative is a 30-year contract option for efforts focused on water quality. Those with CRP contracts set to expire on September 30 are able to sign up for the new initiative by August 6.
“We are excited to expand this option to enable more producers to take their conservation efforts to the next level,” USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux said in a press release. “Offering CLEAR30 in all states enables durable maintenance of conservation investments and enhanced stewardship of the land and waterways on a larger scale.”
CLEAR30 builds on original CRP contracts of 10 to 15 years. The initiative offers additional incentives for 30-year commitments to water quality practices on land enrolled in CRP. Initially established by the 2018 Farm Bill, the program has only been available in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. CLEAR30 will now be available to eligible producers nationwide with certain water quality benefiting practices enrolled under continuous CRP or the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
The 30-year contract length helps ensure beneficial practices stay intact for longer periods of time. The aim is to improve overall water quality by reducing sediment and nutrient runoff and ultimately helping prevent algal blooms. Improving conservation efforts in riparian areas also supports carbon sequestration.
Annual payments for producers enrolled in the new initiative will be equal to the current Continuous CRP annual payment rate. Payment rates will also have a 20 percent water quality incentive and an annual rate adjustment of 27.5 percent. Landowners and producers interested in CLEAR30 are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center.