Policy Pulse: Expanded Opportunities in Conservation Reserve Program

Protected Wetland_credit Krista Lundgren USFWSMore often than not, one of the best things we can do for the land is to leave it alone. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) does just that by providing farmers with a rental payment to keep environmentally-sensitive lands out of agricultural production.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding opportunities to enroll acres in CRP under a general sign-up through February 26, 2016. Rather than draining a wetland or removing wildlife habitat from their fields, landowners who participate in CRP can enter into 10- to 15-year contracts to receive an economic benefit from their property while restoring and protecting natural resources.

The general sign-up is good news for conservation and the Conservation Reserve Program, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this. As CRP faces declining acreage caps under the 2014 Farm Bill, this general sign-up — the first since May 2013 — is a promising step toward providing conservation benefits on farmland nationwide.