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CRP 101

January 5, 2016 - Kyle Walker, AFM, AAC, CAC

Many landowners are looking for the perfect balance of maximizing income while protecting environmentally sensitive acres. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) gives landowners and tenants the ability to enroll these sensitive acres in a program based on preservation and establishing long-term cover.

The Conservation Reserve Program was established in the 1985 Farm Bill and signed into law by Ronald Reagan. For more than 30 years, the focus of the CRP program remains the same: provide wildlife habitat, conserve and improve topsoil and protect water quality on marginal or highly erodible acres.

Over the past 30 years, tens of millions of acres have been enrolled in the CRP program. With volatility in today’s markets and low commodity prices, CRP is becoming a safe investment in your farm’s overall health and bottom line. The USDA‘s Farm Service Agency (FSA) manages the CRP program. More information on CRP can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp or your local FSA office.

Participants can enroll in CRP in two different ways. The majority of CRP acres are enrolled during a periodic “General Sign-up” announced by the Secretary of Agriculture. General Sign-up is currently ongoing, beginning on December 1, 2015, and tentatively concluding on February 26. General CRP is a competitive process in which land is bid into the program based on environmental benefits and costs.

General Sign-up contracts will start the following October 1, after acceptance, and run for either 10 or 15 years. “Continuous Sign-up” offers the participant the ability to enroll acres throughout year without waiting for the periodic sign-up dates. Once approved, these contracts will begin on first of the month following acceptance. There isn’t a bid process and acres are approved if they meet eligibility requirements. “Continuous” practices include wetland restoration, wildlife habitat buffers, wetland buffers, filter strips, riparian buffers and many more.

Payments are based off soils types in relation to rental rates on a county average. Initial cost share is provided as a one-time payment usually covering 50 percent of costs associated with establishing the seeding. This 50 percent cost share is applied to the seed purchase and costs associated with seeding. Cost share is also available for mid-contract management up to 50 percent.

Signing Incentive Payment (SIP) and Performance Incentive Payment (PIP) are one-time payments adding additional incentive to enroll in various programs. Current SIP payments can reach $150/acre and PIP payments can add an additional 40 percent reduction in costs associated with establishing the seeding.

Eligible Land

  • Cropland planted four (4) out of six (6) years between 2008-2013
  • Compliant with USDA’s highly erodible land and wetlands provisions
  • Capable of being planted to an agricultural commodity


  • Participants must have owned or operated the land for 12 months prior to program sign-up
  • Be in control of the land for the length of the contract
  • Maximum annual non-cost share payment that an eligible “person” can receive under CRP is $50,000 per fiscal year. This includes annual rental payment, SIP, and PIP.

Generally, CRP payments are subject to federal income taxes. For more information, please visit www.irs.gov and search Conservation Reserve Program. Participants may also hunt or lease hunting rights on acres enrolled in CRP. If you’re a landowner seeking advice or assistance on CRP enrollment, Peoples Company’s Land Management team is available to assist. Our Land Managers visit county offices across the state and keep up-to-date on current programs and offerings.

Please visit www.peoplescompany.com for more information.

Published in: News & Events