The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was part of the 1985 Farm Bill. This was during the 1980's farm crises. The goal of the CRP was to take environmentally sensitive land out of production to try and improve grain prices. Plus, it would reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and foster wildlife habitat. Now is has another goal, carbon sequestration. I think the voluntary CRP has been one of the most popular USDA programs at least in my lifetime!

Carbon sequestration is a popular topic we here about in Washington D.C. and in the news. In response to "climate change" or global warming the plan is to lower the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. By enrolling more land in the CRP, planting native grasses and other species, the thinking is the plants will take carbon dioxide out of the air and sequester it in the soil as plant residue, roots and so on.

We do not have all the details yet on what the USDA plans for "incentives" to increase the enrollment in the CRP, but I expect higher land rent payments will be neat the top of the list. That would likely be to my benefit because less acres of corn and beans planted would lower supplies and support higher prices. On the other hand for young farmers or farmers trying to expand their operations by renting more land they will be competing with the Federal Government for land.

Hopefully the USDA and Congress get a deal worked out with the CRP rental rate and competing with area farmers. If you would like to learn more about the CRP call your local Farm Service Agency office at your county USDA Service Center.

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