USDA Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

Overview

The Con­ser­va­tion Reserve Enhance­ment Pro­gram (CREP) is a vol­un­tary US Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture pro­gram that helps farmers
      • pro­tect envi­ron­men­tal­ly sen­si­tive land,
      • decrease ero­sion,
      • restore wildlife habi­tat, and
      • safe­guard ground and sur­face water.
The pro­gram is a part­ner­ship among pro­duc­ers; trib­al, state, and fed­er­al gov­ern­ments; and, in some cas­es, groups like the North San­ti­am Water­shed Council.
 
CREP is admin­is­tered by USDA Farm Ser­vice Agency (FSA). By com­bin­ing CRP resources with state, trib­al, and pri­vate pro­grams, CREP pro­vides farm­ers and ranch­ers with a sound finan­cial pack­age for con­serv­ing and enhanc­ing the nat­ur­al resources of farms.
 
CREP address­es high-pri­or­i­ty con­ser­va­tion issues of both local and nation­al sig­nif­i­cance, such as impacts to water sup­plies, loss of crit­i­cal habi­tat for threat­ened and endan­gered wildlife species, soil ero­sion, and reduced habi­tat for fish pop­u­la­tions such as steel­head and salmon. CREP is a com­mu­ni­ty-based, results-ori­ent­ed effort cen­tered around local par­tic­i­pa­tion and leadership.
 

Eligibility

A spe­cif­ic CREP project begins when a state, Indi­an tribe, local gov­ern­ment, or local non­govern­ment enti­ty iden­ti­fies an agri­cul­ture-relat­ed envi­ron­men­tal issue of state or nation­al sig­nif­i­cance. These par­ties and FSA then devel­op a project pro­pos­al to address par­tic­u­lar envi­ron­men­tal issues and goals.
 
Enroll­ment in a state is lim­it­ed to spe­cif­ic geo­graph­ic areas and prac­tices. To deter­mine if your state and coun­ty are involved in CREP and if your land qual­i­fies, con­tact your local coun­ty FSA office.
 
CREP con­tracts require a 10- to 15-year com­mit­ment to keep lands out of agri­cul­tur­al pro­duc­tion. CREP pro­vides pay­ments to par­tic­i­pants who offer eli­gi­ble land. A fed­er­al annu­al rental rate, includ­ing an FSA state com­mit­tee-deter­mined main­te­nance incen­tive pay­ment, is offered, plus cost-share of up to 50 per­cent of the eli­gi­ble costs to install the prac­tice. Fur­ther, the pro­gram gen­er­al­ly offers a sign-up incen­tive for par­tic­i­pants to install spe­cif­ic practices.
 
FSA uses CRP fund­ing to pay a per­cent­age of the pro­gram’s cost, while state, trib­al gov­ern­ments, or oth­er non-fed­er­al sources pro­vide the bal­ance of the funds. States and pri­vate groups involved in the effort may also pro­vide tech­ni­cal sup­port and oth­er in-kind services.
 

Benefits

For the landown­er, CREP is not just a cost-effec­tive way to address rur­al envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems and meet reg­u­la­to­ry require­ments; it can pro­vide a viable option to sup­ple­ment farm income as well.
 
CREP is con­ve­nient for pro­duc­ers because it is based on the famil­iar, high­ly suc­cess­ful CRP mod­el. Land must be owned or leased for at least one year pri­or to enroll­ment to be eli­gi­ble, and must be phys­i­cal­ly and legal­ly capa­ble of being cropped in a nor­mal manner.
 
Land must also meet crop­ping his­to­ry and oth­er eli­gi­bil­i­ty require­ments. Enroll­ment can be on a con­tin­u­ous basis, per­mit­ting farm­ers and ranch­ers to join the pro­gram at any time rather than wait­ing for spe­cif­ic sign-up periods.
 
CREP sup­ports increased con­ser­va­tion prac­tices such as fil­ter strips and forest­ed buffers. These con­ser­va­tion prac­tices help pro­tect streams, lakes, and rivers from sed­i­men­ta­tion and agri­cul­tur­al runoff.
 
CREP also helps landown­ers devel­op and restore wet­lands through the plant­i­ng of appro­pri­ate ground­cov­er. Restor­ing water regimes helps pro­tect nation­al trea­sures like the Chesa­peake Bay, Mam­moth Cave, and the Flori­da Ever­glades. By main­tain­ing clear goals and requir­ing annu­al mon­i­tor­ing, CREP helps par­tic­i­pants mea­sure progress and ensure success.
 
For More Information

For more infor­ma­tion on the Con­ser­va­tion Reserve Enhance­ment Pro­gram, con­tact the soil and water con­ser­va­tion dis­trict in your county:

 
Addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion is also avail­able on Farm Ser­vice Admin­is­tra­tion’s Web site at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov