The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has opened up the enrollment window for the Grassland Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), giving producers and private landowners until May 26 to apply for the program.
To sign up, landowners and producers should call their local USDA Service Center to apply.
Producers must have owned their land for at least 12 months prior to signing up, unless the land was acquired due to the death of the previous owner; a foreclosure change that resulted in the current owner exercising a right of redemption; or the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is convinced that the land was not acquired by the owner for the sole purpose of signing up for the CRP.
The FSA ranks a number of factors in determining which grasslands will be approved for the CRP, including the existing grassland, existing multi-species cover, and the predominance of native species.
What is the Grassland CRP?
The program allows landowners and producers to continue grazing practices while conserving grasslands and promoting biodiversity and healthier soils. More than 3.1 million acres of land were accepted into the 2022 Grassland CRP, the highest since its inception in the 2014 Farm Bill. There are 6.3 million acres of land currently enrolled in the Grassland CRP, which is more than 25% of the 23 million acre CRP.
The FSA has expanded the Grassland CRP in recent years. One of those efforts was the creation of two National Priority Zones: The Greater Yellowstone Wildlife Corridor Priority Zone and the Dust Bowl Priority Zone. The goal is more focus on land that is prone to wind erosion.
The FSA also used the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to engage underserved communities in Great Plains Tribal Nations in order to offer the program to encourage enrollment.
“Grassland CRP clearly demonstrates that agricultural productivity and conservation priorities cannot only coexist but also complement and enhance one another,” said Zach Ducheneaux, the administrator of FSA. “The strength of this program lies in its many benefits — through annual rental payments, the program helps producers and landowners produce and maintain diverse wildlife habitat, sequester carbon in the soil, and support sound, sustainable grazing. These benefits help keep agricultural lands in production while delivering lasting climate outcomes.”
About the Continuous CRP
Those who missed USDA’s General CRP signup from Feb. 27 through April 7, 2023, are able to, under specific criteria, apply for CRP throughout the year. Conditions and rules for the continuous applications can be found here.