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USDA opens continuous CRP signups for conservation
Nebraska Ag Connection - 02/12/2024

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has officially reopened the signup window for the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), signaling a call to action for Nebraska's agricultural producers and landowners. This initiative, under the guidance of the Farm Service Agency (FSA), aims to promote conservation efforts on agricultural lands, offering participants yearly rental payments in exchange for implementing specific conservation practices.

Acting State Executive Director of the FSA, Tim Divis, emphasized the value of Continuous CRP as a crucial conservation tool for producers and landowners. The program is designed to address various conservation goals, ranging from water quality improvement to wildlife habitat restoration.

With a broad scope of options, Continuous CRP stands as a versatile solution for those committed to sustainable agricultural practices.

The reauthorization of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 through September 30, 2024, as signed by the President, ensures the continuity of the CRP and its associated benefits. To participate, producers are encouraged to submit their applications to their local USDA Service Center by July 31, 2024, to secure their enrollment by the October 1, 2024, effective date.

In addition to new enrollments, producers with expiring Continuous CRP contracts can re-enroll or enroll new acres, ensuring their conservation efforts continue. The program notably includes a 20% incentive for water quality practices such as riparian buffers and wetlands, underscoring the USDA's commitment to environmental stewardship.

Enrollment options within Continuous CRP are diverse, offering programs like the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), each targeting specific conservation concerns and goals. The initiative also extends to highly erodible lands and previously farmed wetlands, demonstrating a comprehensive approach to land conservation.

Since its inception in 1985, CRP has grown to become one of the largest voluntary conservation programs on private lands in the U.S., evolving from its initial focus on soil erosion control to encompass a wider range of conservation and economic benefits. This evolution reflects the USDA's ongoing commitment to conservation, offering a win-win scenario for both the environment and participating farmers.

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