Under CRP, farmers and ranchers plant grasses and trees in crop fields and along streams or rivers. The plantings reduce soil and nutrients from washing into waterways, reduce soil erosion that may otherwise contribute to poor air and water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife. Plant cover established on the acreage accepted into the CRP will reduce nutrient and sediment runoff in our nation’s rivers and streams. The CRP has restored more than two million acres of wetlands and associated buffers and reduced soil erosion by more than 400 million tons per year.
USDA selected offers for enrollment based on an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) comprised of five environmental factors plus cost. The five environmental factors are: (1) wildlife enhancement, (2) water quality, (3) soil erosion, (4) enduring benefits, and (5) air quality. The minimal acceptable EBI level for this signup is 200.
The average rental rate per acre for this signup is about $46. USDA implemented a number of measures including using additional EBI point incentives for producers to submit cost-effective offers, and producer outreach activities to encourage competitive offers on the most environmentally sensitive lands. These measures will maintain the high environmental benefits while decreasing the historic cost of the program.
Under CRP, there are more than 31.3 million acres enrolled on more than 473,000 contracts. These 10 to 15 year contracts provide long term enduring conservation benefits in return for an annual rental payment.