Grassley joins Booker in introducing bill to improve Conservation Reserve Program
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), both members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently introduced the bipartisan Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Reform Act, which would prioritize enrolling marginal farmland in the CRP, rather than prime farmland. This change would generate more durable wildlife and environmental benefits while reducing competition for productive farmland between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and farmers, especially new and beginning farmers.
“For decades, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has been a valuable tool for landowners to enhance soil and water quality for their environmentally-sensitive land,” Grassley said. “However, entering large tracts of land into the program can make it difficult for new and beginning farmers to access land. The reforms in this bill ensure that CRP is not used on highly-productive farmland and instead focus the program on highly-erodible land. This bipartisan solution promotes effective conservation while expanding opportunities for young and beginning farmers who rent farmland – all without increasing program costs. It will benefit American farmland and farmers for generations to come.”
“The Conservation Reserve Program is a critical tool for reducing erosion and protecting natural resources, but we can do more to ensure it benefits both our environment and farmers,” Booker said. “Our bill allows farmers to enroll the most sensitive land for the long term while keeping productive land available for those who currently struggle to get access to it, improving CRP and making it work better – and doing it in a budget-neutral way.”
Administered by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), CRP is a land conservation initiative that compensates farmers enrolled in the program with an annual rental payment in exchange for removing environmentally-sensitive land from agricultural production for a fixed period of time.
The CRP Reform Act would set CRP’s overall acreage cap at 24 million acres for FY24 to FY28, with an emphasis on enrolling marginal land. It would increase incentives to enroll marginal farmland through the continuous enrollment and grasslands categories while reducing the rental rate for general CRP sign-ups by 10%. The bill would also eliminate barriers to re-enrollment and extend maximum contract lengths to 30 years for marginal land.