USDA to expand and renew the Conservation Reserve Program
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the USDA will expand and renew the Conservation Reserve Program with a focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation.
USDA’s goal is to enroll up to four million new acres in CRP by raising rental payment rates and expanding the number of incentives environmental practices allowed under the program. If the USDA reaches that goal, it will mitigate an additional three million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
Vilsack says CRP is one of the world’s most successful voluntary conservation programs, and investing in it will help preserve topsoil, sequester carbon, and reduce the impacts of climate change.
In 2021, the program is capped at 25 million acres, and currently 20.8 million acres are enrolled. The cap will increase to 27 million by 2023. The Farm Service Agency will adjust soil rental rates, increase payments for Practice Incentive from 20 to 50 percent, increase payments for water quality practices, and establish a CRP Grassland minimum rental rate.
The USDA is also investing in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in Regional Conservation Partnership Program projects and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials.
Vilsack made the announcement today at the White House National Climate Task Force meeting to highlight USDA’s commitment to putting U.S. ag and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions.