Participation in the Conservation Reserve Program, a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative meant to improve environmental health and combat climate change, has declined in recent years, USDA data shows. 

The USDA pays farmers who enroll in CRP a “rental payment” for every acre of land the farmer agrees to set aside. The land sequesters carbon, reduces nitrogen runoff and improves soil health, according to the USDA.

In order to incentivize enrollment, the USDA has increased the per-acre payment rates to farmers who participate in CRP programs. 

While the agency saw increased enrollment in 2021 compared to the previous fiscal year, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting impact on crop supply pushed the USDA to offer voluntary termination of CRP contracts in order to increase the number of plantable acres in the United States.

Top image: Illinois Farm Bill biologist Jason Bleich talks with Georgetown farmer Travis Vice about how the type of soils on his farm help determine the subsidy at the USDA office in Danville on Thursday, February 12, 2015. photo by Darrell Hoemann, C-U Citizen Access

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