WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced (in February) that agricultural producers and private landowners can apply for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General signup through April 7, 2023. CRP is a voluntary conservation program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a key tool in the effort to address climate change and help agricultural communities invest in the long-term well-being of their land and natural resources.
“The Conservation Reserve Program is one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the United States, offering a range of conservation options to farmers, ranchers and landowners,” Vilsack said. “CRP has and continues to be a great fit for farmers with less productive or marginal cropland, helping them re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and support wildlife habitat. Under this administration, we have made several updates to the program to increase producer interest and enrollment, strengthen the climate benefits of the program and help ensure underserved producers can find a pathway to entry into CRP.”
Producers and landowners enrolled more than 5 million acres into CRP through signups in 2022, building on the acceptance of more than 3.1 million acres in the largest Grassland CRP signup in history. There are currently 23 million acres enrolled in CRP, with 1.9 million set to expire this year. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is aiming to reach the 27-million-acre cap statutorily set for fiscal year 2023.
Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits. Landowners and producers interested in CRP should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more or to apply for the program before their deadlines.