Time to signup for the Conservation Reserve Program is running out.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking offers from eligible produces until July 23.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) made several changes to CRP to make it more appealing to all producers, including those who are historically underserved, beginning, and veterans. FSA added incentives to encourage producers to include climate-smart agricultural practices in their operations to increase natural resource and environmental benefits.

USDA’s goal is to enroll up to 4 million new CRP acres by raising payment rates and expanding the incentives offered under the program. CRP is capped at 25 million acres for fiscal year 2021, and currently 20.7 million acres are enrolled, but the cap will gradually increase to 27 million acres by fiscal year 2023. To help increase producer interest and enrollment, FSA has:

— Adjusted soil rental rates. This enables additional flexibility for rate adjustments, including a possible increase in rates where appropriate.

— Increased payments for Practice Incentives from 20% to 50%. This incentive for continuous CRP practices is based on the cost of establishment and is in addition to cost share payments.

— Increased payments for water quality practices. Incentive increased from 10% to 20% for certain water quality practices available through the CRP continuous signup, such as grassed waterways, riparian buffers and filter strips.

Additionally, to mitigate climate change, FSA introduced a new annual Climate-Smart Practice Incentive for the general, grasslands, and continuous signups that aims to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate-Smart CRP practices include establishing trees and permanent grasses, developing wildlife habitat, and restoring wetlands. The Climate-Smart Practice Incentive amount is based on the benefits of each practice type.

Interested producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. In addition to the CRP General signup, FSA is also accepting applications for the CRP Grasslands and CRP Continuous signups. Learn more at fsa.usda.gov/crp.

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