Record Enrollment for Grasslands CRP

DanConservation, Environment

Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay

The USDA’s Grasslands Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) saw a large amount of enrollment this year. In fact, John Berge, Acting Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs at the Farm Service Agency says more acres were enrolled in the Grasslands Conservation Reserve Program this year than ever before.

“There were 4.6 million acres that walked into our doors and offered to our offices. Now during that process, we come up with some criteria to accept and we also make those acceptance rates known to producers and we’re going to accept now 2.7 million acres total, which is pretty fantastic,” Berge said.

In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and to plant species that will improve the environmental health and quality of the land.

“Grassland CRP is a pretty cool program. It is by definition a working lands conservation program where we can provide some financial assistance to producers and landowners to continue grazing and haying practices while protecting grasslands to further some of our CRP conservation efforts,” he said. “We’d like to provide an incentive to keep those lands in livestock production and a grazing practice or a healing practice and still reap the benefits of that way.”

Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are from 10 to 15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce the loss of wildlife habitat.

“This year’s record-breaking Grassland CRP signup demonstrates the continued success and value of investments in voluntary, producer-led, working lands conservation programs,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a separate news release. “Grassland CRP clearly demonstrates, time and time again, that conservation priorities and agricultural productivity not only have the capacity to coexist but also complement and enhance one another.  Through all our working land conservation programs, farmers and ranchers play a critical role in helping secure the future of both our food production and our natural resources.” The program was started in 1985, under President Regan.

Sabrina Halvorson
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.

Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet News Hour and The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.