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The Conservation Reserve Program

Learn more about the Conservation Reserve Program and the choices you have to keep your property environmentally friendly.

| January/February 2011

  • Mule Deer
    Tall grass offers a resting place for deer, as well as a habitat for other fauna. Penner
  • Bobwhite Quail
    Bobwhite Quail thrive in CRP habitats. Tietz
  • Purple Coneflowers
    Purple coneflowers dot a restored Illinois prairie. Geer

  • Mule Deer
  • Bobwhite Quail
  • Purple Coneflowers

If you are a landowner, you undoubtedly know by now that what you do with your land carries a significant impact on the environment. But being environmentally sensitive on an acre or less is a lot easier than trying to make the right choices for the environment when you own a large farm or ranch. 

If you’re a farmer who would like to make some positive changes for the environment, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) may be able to help. 

The USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Conservation Reserve Program is the largest voluntary conservation program currently available to provide financial assistance to farmers and ranchers willing to take some of their qualifying cropland out of production and replant it in ways to benefit the environment. 

The original goal of the CRP program was to cut down on erosion caused by agricultural practices. To achieve that result, acreage enrolled in CRP is planted with vegetative cover such as native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filterstrips or riparian buffers. In addition to reducing erosion, these changes benefit the environment in other ways, including improved air quality, reduced damage from floods, improved water quality due to the reduction of chemical runoff, and increased wildlife habitat. 

In exchange for making these changes, farmers may receive annual rental payments for the term of a multiyear contract, as well as cost-share assistance to establish the vegetative cover.  

The CRP program has been very effective. It is estimated that in 2007, CRP reduced soil erosion by 470 million tons from pre-CRP levels. Bird populations, especially Ring-necked Pheasants, Sage Grouse, grassland birds, and ducks from the Prairie Pothole region in the northern Great Plains, enjoy a less bleak outlook since the CRP’s inception. 

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