USDA to Reopen Signup for Continuous Conservation Reserve Program

In a move toward bolstering conservation efforts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reopened the signup window for the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (Continuous CRP) starting January 12, 2024. This initiative, managed by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), presents a valuable opportunity for agricultural producers and landowners to engage in conservation activities while receiving yearly rental payments.

Producers with expiring contracts set to conclude this year under the Continuous CRP can start applying for re-enrollment from January 12, 2024. This proactive measure allows participants to seamlessly continue their commitment to conservation practices without disruption.

To submit offers for enrollment, interested producers should get in touch with their local USDA Service Center before July 31, 2024. The goal is to have offers in place, effective by October 1, 2024. It’s worth noting that to manage enrollment within the statutory cap, offers will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, with approvals being processed in batches throughout the year.

The Continuous CRP doesn’t just encourage conservation; it incentivizes it. FSA water quality practices, including riparian buffers, prairie strips, grassed waterways, and wetlands, will receive an additional 20% incentive. These practices have a proven positive impact on water quality, aligning with broader environmental conservation goals.

Moreover, the initiative introduces the Climate-Smart Practice Incentive, launched in 2021, into the Continuous signup. This incentive further supports practices that contribute to climate resilience and sustainable land use.

Within the Continuous CRP, producers can choose from various enrollment options tailored to specific conservation concerns:

  1. CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program): Collaborating with conservation partners, CREP leverages federal and non-federal funds to address specific conservation concerns at the state, regional, tribal, or national level.
  2. SAFE (State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement): This initiative focuses on restoring vital habitat to meet high-priority state wildlife conservation goals.
  3. HELI (Highly Erodible Lands Initiative): Producers and landowners can enroll in CRP to establish long-term cover on highly erodible cropland with a weighted erodibility index (EI) greater than or equal to 20.
  4. Farmable Wetlands Program: Enabling the restoration of previously farmed wetlands and wetland buffers, improving both vegetation and water flow.
  5. CLEAR (Clean Lake Estuaries and Rivers) Initiative and CLEAR30: This initiative prioritizes and provides additional incentives for water quality practices to reduce sediment loadings, nutrient loadings, and harmful algal blooms. CLEAR30, a component of this initiative, offers these incentives through 30-year contracts.

As the Continuous CRP signup reopens, it’s an opportune time for stakeholders to explore these conservation options, contributing not only to environmental preservation but also securing rental payments for their commitment to sustainable land management.

Want to learn more? Contact FDCE today and we can help you with the process.