USDA enrolls 23 million acres in CRP admin October 20, 2023

USDA enrolls 23 million acres in CRP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Oct. 16 that it paid landowners more than $1.77 billion in 2023 for the more than 23 million acres of private land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

CRP has grown by 21 percent in terms of acres enrolled since 2021, USDA said, but the program remains below the cap of 27 million acres set for this fiscal year in the 2018 farm bill. 

According to USDA data, the increase can be attributed to growth in the Grassland CRP. [CRP includes the General Program, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), Continuous CRP (non-CREP), Farmable Wetland and Grassland].

General CRP acres have declined by 3 million acres overall since 2021, according to statistics on CRP from July 2023 and January 2021 available on the USDA website. General CRP acres declined from 11 million to 8 million acres, while the Grassland CRP has grown from under 2 million acres in January 2021 to 6 million acres now. USDA noted that it increased the Grassland CRP minimum rental rate for more than 1,000 counties, causing the average Grassland rental rate to go from $13 an acre to $16 an acre. The overall rental rate for all CRP programs has declined since 2021 from $83 per acre to $78. 

More information on CRP is outlined in this relevant DTN article.

In USDA’s announcements, the agency cited the following new incentives it has implemented since 2021: 

• A new climate-smart practice incentive for CRP general and continuous signups designed to reward participants who implement conservation practices that increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
• Soil rental rate adjustments.
• Increased payments for practice incentives from 20 percent to 50 percent. 
• Increased payments for water quality practices rates from 10 percent to 20 percent.
• An increase in Grassland CRP minimum rental rate for more than 1,000 counties.

FSA also made changes to the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to include the flexibility for partners to provide matching funds. 

The top five states for CRP participant payments are Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Missouri.

CRP advocacy: NGFA supports capping the CRP at 24 million acres in the next farm bill. The CRP Reform Act, sponsored by Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, would reform the CRP to focus future enrollments on marginal farmland rather than prime farmland. Among its provisions, the bill maintains CRP’s overall acreage cap at 24 million acres for fiscal years 2024-2028; reduces the rental rate for general sign-ups to 75 percent; and provides incentives for enrolling marginal land into CRP continuous categories. NGFA’s advocacy email campaign and a one-page summary of the bill can be found here.