CRP Struggle Bus?

May 6, 2022

Sign me up.

That was the attitude of many farmers who took advantage of the general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) application process that closed on March 11.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Tuesday that the USDA accepted offers for 2.07M acres of CRP ground during this round of “general” sign-ups. 

The USDA is stoked, yet they’re sending a clear message: “We’re not done yet.”

Referring to the Grassland/Continuous CRP programs still rolling, Tommy V. had this to say: “We recognize the Conservation Reserve Program is an important tool in helping [to]… conserve natural resources, and this announcement is just the first opportunity for producers to take advantage of the program.”

But… things could be better.

The total accepted acreage fell short of the amount needed to sustain current program acres, and of those 2M accepted, only 400K were “new.” The rest were re-ups. 

And according to some, USDA conservation programs have even more issues.

Feeling rejected: According to research by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), only 42% of CSP applicants and only 31% of EQIP applicants are granted contracts. 

Why? Some cite program restrictions and large livestock “set-asides” that limit local program control. 

And to rub salt in the wound, the IATP report shows most states aren’t meeting their 5% “socially disadvantaged producers” target.

Where this goes: More than half of the accepted acres were from three states: Texas, Colorado, and Kansas. And with climate change mitigation an administration priority, USDA is hopeful for more CRP contracts as the Grassland/Continuous programs move forward.