In May 2022, the USDA announced that there would be some changes to current CRP agreements. This announcement may have worried some landowners initially, however, a closer look at the USDA’s allowance of early termination for CRPs reveals that this change can benefit landowners in a variety of ways.
What is a CRP?
CRPs are Conservation Reserve Programs administered by the Farm Safety Agency, an agency of the USDA, to protect natural resources and habitats for future generations.
In a CRP agreement, farmers and landowners agree to keep an environmentally significant portion of their property free from agricultural production in exchange for an annual payment. By omitting a section of their property from farming, farmers will produce less each year but also preserve the natural features of the land and improve their property as a whole.
These kinds of agreements typically last 10-15 years in length and often benefit both the landowner and their surrounding communities. By revitalizing a portion of the property, the entire property can benefit from a cleaner water supply, healthier wildlife habitat, and decreased soil erosion.
According to a USDA resource on CRPs, “[the] CRP protects more than 20 million acres of American topsoil from erosion and is designed to safeguard the nation’s natural resources. By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP protects groundwater [and] helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams.”
USDA Changes to CRP Agreements
The USDA has made changes to Conservation Reserve Program contracts to allow participants in the final year of their agreement to voluntarily terminate their contract after the primary nesting season in 2022.
This one-time voluntary termination waives rental repayments to alleviate global food shortages as a result of supply chain disruptions caused by the Ukraine/Russia conflict. This means that the landowner can still get some of their CRP payments, terminate the contract early to plant a crop, and not repay any funds received through the CRP.
Termination of the contract will allow producing landowners to prep the land and seed fall crops by October 1st, 2022. Landowners in colder climates could opt for a crop of winter wheat or simply use the time to better prepare for seeding in the spring. Any requests for early termination should be submitted to a local USDA Service Center.
What Do These Changes Mean for Landowners?
These changes to CRPs hold a variety of benefits for landowners since they can keep their profits from the CRP agreement and still terminate the agreement early. Early termination of the CRP agreement will allow a landowner to use that protected portion of their land for agricultural production in the next season.
The hope is that by allowing these CRP agreements to terminate, we’ll be able to increase agriculture production to mitigate the food shortages seen as a result of Covid-19 supply chain shortages and the war in Ukraine. This should also result in more money in the farmer’s pocket at the end of the year since they’ll be able to plant more crops, thereby increasing their profits.
Ultimately these changes to CRP agreements are a huge benefit to landowners since they’ll be able to plant and harvest the protected portion of their property while still reaping the financial benefits of their CRP agreement.
Edited by Bobby Spivey