SPRINGFIELD, Illinois — Agricultural producers and landowners in Illinois can apply for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands signup until Aug. 20. This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated signup options to provide greater incentives for producers and increased the program’s conservation and climate benefits, including setting a minimum rental rate and identifying two national priority zones.
The CRP Grassland signup is competitive, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide for annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes.
“USDA is excited to roll out our new and improved CRP Grasslands signup,” said Dan Puccetti, Acting State Executive Director for FSA in Illinois. “USDA is providing a bigger return on investment in terms of protecting natural resource benefits. The Grasslands signup is just one of the many tools available through CRP to help protect our nation’s working lands.”
CRP Grasslands helps Illinois landowners and operators protect grassland, including rangeland, and pastureland and certain other lands, while maintaining the areas as working grazing lands. Protecting grasslands contributes positively to the economy of many regions, provides biodiversity of plant and animal populations, and provides important carbon sequestration benefits.
FSA has updated the Grasslands Signup to establish a minimum rental rate of $15 per acre, which will benefit 1,300 counties.
To focus on important wildlife corridors, FSA also identified National Grassland Priority Zones, providing extra incentives to producers for enrolling grasslands in important migratory corridors and environmentally sensitive areas – the Greater Yellowstone Elk Migration Corridor and the Severe Wind Erosion – Dust Bowl Zone. Counties within these two zones get extra ranking points as well as $5 added to their rental rate. The CRP Grasslands Ranking Factors fact sheet has additional information.
How to Sign Up
To enroll in the CRP Grasslands signup, producers and landowners should contact USDA by the August 20 deadline. Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. Because of the pandemic, some USDA Service Centers are open to limited visitors. Contact your Service Center to set up an in-person or phone appointment. Additionally, more information related to USDA’s response and relief for producers can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.
More Information on CRP
Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits. The program marked its 35-year anniversary this past December.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity, and natural resources, including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local, and tribal governments.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
— USDA Farm Service Agency
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