USDA Announces Conservation Program Results

Kelly MarshallConservation, CRP, Government, USDA

usda-logoMore than 800,000 acres of land have been enrolled in the CRP program through the 49th sign up period.  Farmers and ranchers continue to participate in the program to provide benefits offered by restoring land, protecting wildlife, and improving water quality.

“The Conservation Reserve Program provides nearly $2 billion annually to land owners – dollars that make their way into local economies, supporting small businesses and creating jobs. When these direct benefits are taken together with the resulting economic activity, the benefits related to CRP are estimated at $3.1 billion annually,” said USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. “Over the past 30 years, CRP has created major environmental improvements throughout the countryside. The program has removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere equal to removing nine million cars from the road annually, and prevented 600 million dump trucks of soil from erosion. With today’s announcement, USDA is continuing these achievements by maximizing conservation benefits within the limitations provided by law.”

This was one of the most selective sign-up periods in CRP’s 30-year history, with a record high Environmental Benefits Index cut-off and the lowest-percentage of applications accepted. The high bar means that the per-acre conservation benefits are being maximized and that acres enrolled address multiple conservation priorities simultaneously.

A nationwide acreage limit was established for this program in the 2014 Farm Bill, capping the total number of acres that may be enrolled at 24 million for fiscal years 2017 and 2018. At the same time, USDA has experienced a record demand from farmers and ranchers interested in participating in the voluntary program. As of March 2016, 23.8 million acres were enrolled in CRP, with 1.7 million acres set to expire this fall.

In the three main categories of CRP, more than three million acres have been enrolled, and that’s coming after 2015’s record-setting enrollment.  Currently the acceptance rate for 2016 is triple the pace of last year.  All this at a time with the competitive selection is the highest it has been in the history of the program.

Read more of the details about enrollment in the program here.