Farm Services Agency
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
The Conservation Reserve Program is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners. Through CRP, you can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland.
The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) makes annual rental payments based on the agriculture rental value of the land, and it provides cost-share assistance for up to 50 percent of the participant’s costs in establishing approved conservation practices. Participants enroll in CRP contracts for 10 to 15 years.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides technical and financial assistance to eligible farmers and ranchers to address soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. The program provides assistance to farmers and ranchers in complying with Federal, State, and tribal environmental laws, and encourages environmental enhancement. The program is funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). CRP is administered by the Farm Service Agency, with NRCS providing technical land eligibility determinations, Environmental Benefit Index Scoring, and conservation planning.
The Conservation Reserve Program reduces soil erosion, protects the Nation's ability to produce food and fiber, reduces sedimentation in streams and lakes, improves water quality, establishes wildlife habitat, and enhances forest and wetland resources. It encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland or other environmentally sensitive acreage to vegetative cover, such as tame or native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filter strips, or riparian buffers. Farmers receive an annual rental payment for the term of the multi-year contract. Cost sharing is provided to establish the vegetative cover practices.
For more information please see http://www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/cepd/crp.htm
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
Arkansas Enhancement Program
USDA and the state of Arkansas have launched a $10 million Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to improve water quality of the Bayou Meto watershed and wildlife habitat in five central Arkansas counties.
CREP uses federal and state resources to safeguard environmentally sensitive land through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Producers enrolled in CRP remove lands from agricultural production and plant native grasses, trees, and other vegetation to improve water quality, soil, and wildlife habitat. CRP is authorized by the Food Security Act of 1985, as amended. CREP provides rental payments and other financial incentives to encourage producers to voluntarily enroll in 10- to 15-year CRP contracts.
The Arkansas CREP will target 4,700 acres in central Arkansas to protect water quality, including drinking water supplies. The project will establish tree buffers around streams and rivers in the Bayou Meto watershed. These buffers keep sediment, nutrients, and pollutants from entering water supplies. Trees planted under the Arkansas CREP will reduce the amount of sediment reaching the water by 10,000 tons per year. The program will also provide vital habitat for a wide array of wildlife, including 17 rare or declining species.
The goals of the Arkansas CREP are to:
- Reduce sediment loading in the targeted area by as much as 10,000 tons per year.
- Increase wildlife populations through the creation of riparian buffers.
- Establish 200 miles of riparian forest buffers to protect and restore water quality and wildlife habitat.
The expected combined federal and state obligation is $10.2 million over 15 years, with $8.5 million from the federal government and $1.7 million from Arkansas. This does not include any costs that may be borne by producers.
Producers within portions of Arkansas, Jefferson, Lonoke, Prairie, and Pulaski counties that meet the eligibility requirements identified for the Arkansas CREP may be eligible. To find out if your operation is located within the project area, contact your local USDA service center.
Approved Conservation Practices
The CRP conservation practice approved for this program is CP22 Riparian Buffer.
Signup and Eligibility Requirements
Eligible producers can enroll in 10- to 15-year CRP contracts. Applicants must be able to offer eligible acreage and satisfy the basic eligibility criteria for CRP. Land must be cropland that has been cropped 2 out of the past 5 years and is physically and legally capable of being cropped. Marginal pastureland is also eligible provided it is suitable for use as a riparian buffer planted to trees. Applicants must generally have owned or operated the land for at least one year prior to enrollment. Persons with an existing CRP contract or an approved offer with a contract pending are not eligible for CREP until that contract expires.
Arkansas CREP participants are eligible for four types of USDA payments:
- Signing Incentive Payment - a one-time payment of $100 to $150 per acre for land enrolled in a riparian buffer practice. USDA makes this payment soon after the contract has been signed.
- Practice Incentive Payment - payment equal to about 40 percent of the total cost for establishing the riparian buffer practice. This payment is in addition to the 50 percent cost share assistance that USDA provides.
- Annual rental payment of about 170 percent of the dry land cash rental rate for the county in which the land is located.
- Cost share assistance for installing the conservation practices on retired land.
Arkansas CREP participants are also eligible for a state supplemental one-time lump sum payment of $200 per acre on land enrolled in a 10- to 15-year CRP contract.
Enrollment in Other Programs
Applicants may still enroll in general or continuous signup CRP. However, CREP provides additional benefits not available through the general and/or continuous signup. For instance, the CREP enrollment process is on a continuous basis, and payments are at a higher effective rate.
Additional information is also available on FSA’s web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov
Conservation Reserve Program: Biomass Pilot Projects
Authorized by the FY 2000 agricultural appropriations bill, FSA issued a Federal Register notice on October 20 providing an opportunity to submit applications to conduct pilot projects for harvesting of biomass from CRP land to be used for energy production.
Under the statute, up to 6 projects (no more than one of which in each State) are authorized.
Pilot Project Terms
The terms of the projects include:
- Acreage may not be harvested more than once every other year.
- No more than 25 percent of the total CRP acreage in any NASS Crop Reporting District (see map below) may be harvested in any 1 year.
- No commercial use may be made other than energy production from biomass.
- The total of all projects may not exceed 250,000 acres and individual pilot projects will not generally be approved if they exceed 50,000 acres.
- A payment reduction equal to 25 percent of the annual rental payment will apply during the year the acreage is harvested.
- Pilot projects must be conducted for a minimum of 10 years.
Enrollment in Other Programs
All CRP land is eligible except that land:
- devoted to field windbreaks, waterways, shallow water ways for wildlife, contour grass strips, shelter belts, living snow fences, permanent vegetation to reduce salinity, salt tolerant vegetative cover, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration, and cross-wind trap strips or
- land that is within an approved wellhead protection area not to exceed 2,000 foot radius, has an erodibility index of more than 15, is within 1,000 feet of a stream or other waterbody, or considered a wetland under the regulations at 7 CFR part 12.
Conservation Reserve Program: Emergency Conservation Program
The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides emergency funding for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by wind erosion, floods, hurricanes, or other natural disasters, and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures during periods of severe drought.
The natural disaster must create new conservation problems, which, if not treated, would:
- Impair or endanger the land;
- Materially affect the productive capacity of the land;
- Represent unusual damage which, except for wind erosion, is not the type likely to recur frequently in the same area; and
- Be so costly to repair that Federal assistance is or will be required to return the land to productive agricultural use.
Conservation problems existing prior to the disaster involved are not eligible for cost-sharing assistance. ECP is administered by state and county Farm Service Agency (FSA) committees.
Subject to availability of funds, county FSA committees, with concurrence by the FSA state committee, are authorized to implement ECP for eligible farmers for all disasters except drought. When severe drought conditions exist, the determination to implement the program will be made by the Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs (DAFP), FSA.
Cost-share levels up to 64 percent are set by county FSA committees. Eligibility for ECP assistance is determined by county FSA committees based on individual on-site inspections, taking into account the type and extent of damage. Individual or cumulative requests for cost-sharing of $20,000 or less per person per disaster may be approved by county FSA committees and of $20,001 to $62,500 by state FSA committees. Cost-sharing over $62,500 must be approved by DAFP. Technical assistance may be provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Emergency practices to rehabilitate farmland damaged by wind erosion and other disasters, including drought, may include debris removal, providing water for livestock, fence restoration, grading and shaping of farmland, restoring conservation structures, and water conservation measures. Other emergency conservation measures may be authorized by county FSA committees with approval by state FSA committees and DAFP. Farmers or ranchers may enter into pooling agreements to jointly solve mutual conservation problems.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was reauthorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Farm Bill) to provide a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.
EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practices and a maximum term of ten years. These contracts provide incentive payments and cost-shares to implement conservation practices. Persons who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP program. EQIP activities are carried out according to an environmental quality incentives program plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer that identifies the appropriate conservation practice or practices to address the resource concerns. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions. The local conservation district approves the plan.
EQIP may cost-share up to 75 percent of the costs of certain conservation practices. Incentive payments may be provided for up to three years to encourage producers to carry out management practices they may not otherwise use without the incentive. However, limited resource producers and beginning farmers and ranchers may be eligible for cost-shares up to 90 percent. Farmers and ranchers may elect to use a certified third-party provider for technical assistance. An individual or entity may not receive, directly or indirectly, cost-share or incentive payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $450,000 for all EQIP contracts entered during the term of the Farm Bill.
Conservation Reserve Program: Environmental and Cultural
FSA must consider the environmental effects of its proposed actions upon the human environment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. In 1978, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) promulgated regulations to implement the procedural requirements of NEPA. These CEQ regulations direct agencies to adopt procedures to implement NEPA.
FSA’s implementing regulations for NEPA are found at 7 CFR part 1940 subpart G (Farm Loan Programs) and 7 CFR part 799 (Farm Programs). Both of these environmental regulations classify the agency’s actions into levels of environmental review such as Categorical Exclusions, Environmental Assessments, and Environmental Impact Statements. The National Historic Preservation Act compliance and other cultural resource considerations also are incorporated into FSA’s NEPA process.
FSA’s programs are administered through its network of State, District, and County Offices. Each FSA State Office has a State Environmental Coordinator (SEC). These SECs provide oversight, support, and training to District and County personnel to ensure that NEPA compliance is fully implemented. For specific questions related to a proposed action in a particular state, we encourage you to contact that State’s SEC.