Ag Policy Blog

USDA Adds 2.7 Million Acres to Grasslands CRP

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Cattle rest in a Montana pasture. The Grasslands Conservation Reserve Program allows producers to enroll their acreage in the program and continue to use it for grazing or haying purposes. USDA accepted 2.7 million acres in its latest enrollment for Grasslands CRP. (DTN photo by Chris Clayton)

USDA will add 2.7 million acres in its Grasslands Conservation Reserve Program and the department noted it had received a record 4.6 million acres of land offered to join Grasslands CRP, but had to turn down acreage because of the program's overall cap.

USDA did not detail how many total acres that would be in the full Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) following the additional 2.7 million acres, but recent reports on the program indicate it would approach 24.7 million acres in the program.

In May, USDA reported 23 million total acres in CRP. About 1.97 million acres in CRP were set to expire at the end of September, but USDA reported in June that 891,000 acres had re-enrolled in the program during the general signup and another 295,000 new acres had enrolled in the program.

Unlike other parts of CRP that idle ground, Grasslands CRP is a program for working lands that maintains the ground for grazing and haying practices. It also allows for cost-share payments for fencing or water facilities as well.

Grasslands CRP, though it pays an average annual rental payment of about $15.58 an acre, accounted for 6.35 million acres in the program in May, or 28% of the total acreage.

"This year's Grassland CRP signup demonstrates the continued popularity, success and value of investments in voluntary, producer-led, working lands conservation programs," said Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). "Grassland CRP clearly demonstrates that conservation priorities and agricultural productivity not only have the capacity to coexist but also complement and enhance one another. Through all our working land conservation programs, farmers and ranchers play a critical role in helping secure the future of both our food production and our natural resources."

Under the 2018 farm bill, USDA has a 27-million acre cap for CRP. Ducheneaux indicated any more acreage enrolled in the program right now would make it harder to sign up landowners for contracts in the immediate future.

"With a low number of acres expiring in 2024 and 2025, getting any closer to the statutory cap of 27 million acres would hinder USDA's ability to conduct meaningful future signups or to implement existing and new Conservation Reserve Enhancement Partnership (CREP) agreements in 2024."

USDA reports 483,548 acres are set to expire in September 2024 and another 964,448 acres will expire in September 2025.

While Grasslands CRP is offered nationwide, three states, Nebraska (1.224 million acres), South Dakota (1.194 million acres) and Colorado (1.173 million acres) take up the majority of total acres in Grassland CRP. Those three states also topped the signup for the new acres added to the program.

Grasslands enrolled in CRP help sequester carbon in vegetation and soil, while enhancing resilience to drought and wildfire. Meanwhile, producers can still conduct common grazing practices, such as haying, mowing or harvesting seed from the enrolled land, which supports agricultural production, USDA noted.

Also see, "Emergency CRP Haying and Grazing Opens up in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska,"…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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