Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program – or CREP – pays farmers and ranchers to plant and maintain ground cover or take other actions to reduce soil erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and protect water quality on environmentally sensitive cropland. About 1.15 million acres were enrolled in the program as of Jan. 31, 2009.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) created the CREP in 1997 as a subprogram of the older and much larger Conservation Reserve Program, which includes similar goals doesn’t necessarily target specific environmental goals in particular regions through state/federal partnerships. CREP contracts require 10- to 15-year commitments by owners to keep land out of agricultural production in specified geographic areas, such as watersheds or wetlands.

State and local governments, along with Indian tribes and local nongovernmental groups start a specific CREP project by identifying agriculturally related environmental issues of state or national importance. Then, they work with the FSA to develop a project proposal to address specific environmental issues and objectives.

Farmers and ranchers with eligible lands receive annual rental fees plus half the cost of installing the specified practices and are eligible for bonus payments in some project areas. The practices include planting grass filter strips and forested buffers to protect waterways from sedimentation and agricultural runoff, along with ground covers to protect wetlands. 

As of January 2009, there were 43 CREP agreements to implement projects in 32 states, including two that focus on the Chesapeake Bay and the Florida Everglades.

Sources and More Information

Farm Service Agency

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