Efforts to Strengthen CREP Value for Western Producers

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Conservation, Farm Bill, Industry

Increasing accessibility for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is one of the priorities for the Almond Alliance of California in the upcoming farm bill. CREP is a component of the larger Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Almond Alliance CEO, Aubrey Bettencourt said they are working with lawmakers to address some of the limitations of the program.


“Currently, the drought CREP program does not acknowledge irrigated land rental rates. This is actually typical of CRP and CREP, writ large. So that program doesn’t get utilized very well in the irrigated West because our land costs are higher; our rental rate costs are higher because they’re irrigated land rental rates,” Bettencourt explained. “So, we would really like to see that program opened up to the West through allowing for irrigated land rental rates.”

Another issue that could provide better accessibility to growers is addressing contract length. Bettencourt said that contracts are typically 10 years or more. They are advocating for a shorter contract length of between four and six years in length. The idea is to somewhat mirror what individual states are doing with similar programs.

“Let’s get it out on the landscape again in this farm bill and really open up new tools. For our farmers who are dealing with severe shifts in climate with drought and flood; with SGMA and groundwater, whether you’re talking about Colorado watershed or you’re talking about the CVP,” said Bettencourt. “We’ve got a definite need for new tools in the toolkit, and we think that’s a program that can be nuanced to be a better tool.”

Listen to the report below.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West