Record-Setting Grassland Conservation Reserve Program Signup

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Conservation, Environment, Industry, USDA-NRCS

Grassland Conservation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported a record-setting year for Grassland Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signups. USDA received 4.6 million acres in offers. Nearly 2.7 million acres in offers from farmers and landowners are being accepted into the program this year. USDA reports that a lower percentage of offers were accepted than last year because of program limitations on acreage. “With a low number of acres expiring in 2024 and 2025, getting any closer to the statutory cap of 27 million acres would hinder USDA’s ability to conduct meaningful future signups or to implement existing and new Conservation Reserve Enhancement Partnership (CREP) agreements in 2024,” said Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Signups for Grassland CRP were most prominent in Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota, with enrolled acreage of 430,899 acres, 417,865 acres, and 325,443 acres, respectively. FSA also accepted more than one million acres through the General CRP signup. More than 465,800 acres have also been submitted so far for this year’s Continuous CRP.  Grassland CRP offers an opportunity for agricultural producers and private landowners to continue grazing practices while addressing conservation concerns. Enrolled acreage helps to sequester carbon in vegetation and soil, and bolster resilience to drought and wildfire.

“This year’s Grassland CRP signup demonstrates the continued popularity, success and value of investments in voluntary, producer-led, working lands conservation programs,” said Ducheneaux. “Grassland CRP clearly demonstrates that conservation priorities and agricultural productivity not only have the capacity to coexist but also complement and enhance one another.”

POTENTIAL CHANGES ON THE HORIZON

CRP could be in for some significant changes as lawmakers consider several revisions to the program. Notable updates are being discussed in the House Agriculture Committee as part of the ongoing farm bill debate. Some of the proposed changes are eliminating CRP’s national acreage cap and instead base enrollment on funding availability. FSA state offices would also be given more authority in the administration of the program. Suggested updates also include a revision to the Environmental Benefits Index that is used for evaluating acreage being considered for enrollment in CRP.


Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West