Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack just announced that USDA will open enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with higher payment rates, new incentives, and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation. Additionally, USDA is announcing investments in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in 85 Regional Conservation Partnership Program projects and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials.
Secretary Vilsack made the announcement at Wednesday’s White House National Climate Task Force meeting. Vilsack says, “We need to invest in CRP and let it do what it does best—preserve topsoil, sequester carbon, and reduce the impacts of climate change.” USDA’s goal is to enroll up to four million new acres in CRP by raising rental payment rates and expanding the number of incentivized environmental practices allowed under the program. USDA says CRP is one of the world’s largest voluntary conservation programs with a long track record of success.