The Biden Administration has been touting environmental issues and programs since the campaign. This is not anything completely new for farmers, as the USDA has been working on conservation-minded programs for decades, most notably the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This program has always been a large point of discussion and debate in every Farm Bill. How many acres can be enrolled, what acres should qualify, and what rate should we be paying.
The goal has been to pay farmers to take marginal land out of production at a rate that would not be a financial burden for losing that production. The program hasn’t been without some forms of controversy. Those battles usually happen around the number of acres and the pay rate. There were years when supporters of the program were concerned that perfectly good cropland was getting enrolled in the program while marginal acres weren’t getting enrolled before the quotas were met. This was because the rate of pay was coming in so high that farmers were making more money by enrolling production land than by taking the risk of farming.
Now, you did not come here to hear a review of the history of CRP and other conservation programs, you wanted to hear the latest figures from the USDA. The recent enrollment period for grassland acres into the CRP Program saw an increase in acres put into the program. USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Gloria Montaño-Green says this year’s enrollment period brought the total acres up over five million.
This number surpassed the goal they had established of having four million total acres. Montaño-Green talks about the reason for the increased acres.
The goal is to continue to enroll these marginal acres to help benefit the entire ecosystem.
USDA says that there have been signups from some newer areas, but the old standards also came through in big numbers.