Utilizing the Conservation Reserve Program assists in erosion control, vegetative improvements and provides rental payments
There are numerous benefits to implementing conservation practices on an agricultural operation. With the help of the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency, producers can explore these benefits through the Conservation Reserve Program.
This unique NRCS program helps farmers and ranchers preserve valuable resources on their property while earning a paycheck and being able to participate in cost share opportunities.
The goal of the CRP program is to preserve land that is environmentally sensitive (such as forest and wetland areas that offer valuable wildlife habitat) or tracts of land that are at risk for issues such as soil erosion or increased sedimentation in nearby streams, rivers or lakes.
NRCS staff work with program participants to address soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on their lands, and to create a long-term management plan – contracts for approved applicants are 10 to 15 years in duration.
Some of the practices that the NRCS assists producers in establishing for the CRP include planting grasses or other vegetative cover, browse for wildlife and trees, to conserve valuable soil that might otherwise erode under more traditional farming practices.
Through the CRP, participating farmers receive an annual rental payment for the duration of their contract for managing valuable natural resources.
According to the American Farm Bureau, for the 2017 fiscal year the Conservation Reserve Program average rental rate was $76.73 per acre, up 6 percent from the prior year. On top of the rental payment, farmers can also receive further financial help to preserve their land’s natural resources through a CRP cost-share program to establish their vegetative cover practices. The FSA works closely with the NRCS to administer the funding for the rental payments and cost shares through the Commodity Credit Corporation.
Participating in a program such as the CRP has more than just financial benefits for producers, explained Curt McDaniel, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist – Programs.
One benefit is that the producer gets protection of the natural resources on their farm or ranch – which is quite a large benefit considering that natural resources are not typically something that can be reproduced once they are gone.
The second benefit is that the producer will hopefully see an increase in production from properly implemented practices through NRCS financial assistance programs. The third benefit from participating in these programs is a little broader.
“Society gets an environmental benefit,” McDaniel said. “These programs are also beneficial to rural communities.”
When producers utilize the financial assistance they receive from the NRCS, they are purchasing supplies from their local communities and making every dollar count, while also making production practice choices that help safeguard not just their natural resources, but their neighbors as well.