New programs for sensitive land


WASHINGTON – Farmers, ranchers and landowners committed to protecting and conserving environmentally
sensitive land may now sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program. The United States Department of
Agriculture has also announced that retiring farmers enrolled in CRP could receive incentives to
transfer a portion of their land to beginning, disadvantaged or veteran farmers through the Transition
Incentives Program.
"CRP is one of the largest voluntary conservation programs in the country," said Tom Vilsack,
USDA secretary. "This initiative helps farmers and ranchers lead the nation in preventing soil
erosion, improving water quality and restoring wildlife habitat, all of which will make a difference for
future generations."
Vilsack continued, "The average age of farmers and ranchers in the United States is 58 years, and
twice as many are 65 or older compared to those 45 or younger. The cost of buying land is one of the
biggest barriers to many interested in getting started in agriculture. The Transition Incentives Program
is very useful as we work to help new farmers and ranchers get started."
The Conservation Reserve Program provides incentives to producers who utilize conservation methods on
environmentally-sensitive lands. For example, farmers are monetarily compensated for establishing
long-term vegetative species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as "covers") to control
soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.
CRP consists of a "continuous" and "general" sign-up period. Continuous sign up for
the voluntary program starts June 9. Under continuous sign-up authority, eligible land can be enrolled
in CRP at any time with contracts of up to 10 to 15 years in duration. In lieu of a general sign-up this
year, USDA will allow producers with general CRP contracts expiring this September to have the option of
a one-year contract extension. USDA will also implement the 2014 Farm Bill’s requirement that producers
enrolled through general sign-up for more than five years can exercise the option to opt-out of the
program if certain other conditions are met. In addition, the new grassland provisions, which will allow
producers to graze their enrolled land, will enable producers to do so with more flexibility.
The Transition Incentives Program provides two additional years of payments for retired farmers and
ranchers who transition expiring CRP acres to socially disadvantaged, military veteran, or beginning
producers who return the land to sustainable grazing or crop production. Sign up will also begin June 9.
TIP funding was increased by more than 30 percent in the 2014 Farm Bill, providing up to $33 million
through 2018.
As part of the 2014 Farm Bill, participants meeting specific qualifications may have the opportunity to
terminate their CRP contract during fiscal year 2015 if the contract has been in effect for a minimum of
five years and if other conditions are also met.
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers CRP, will coordinate the various CRP program
opportunities. For more information on CRP and other FSA programs, visit a local FSA county office or go
online to
Both the CRP and TIP were reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic
gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of
dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each
provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers;
strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research;
establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made
products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of
life in rural America.
For more information, visit

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