More Than 500,000 Americans Involved with Protecting 24 Million Acres
November 4, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will issue nearly $1.7 billion in payments to more than half a million Americans who have contracts with the government to protect sensitive agricultural lands. The investment, part of the voluntary USDA Conservation Reserve Program, allows producers to protect almost 24 million acres of wetlands, grasslands and wildlife habitat in 2016.

CRP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who remove environmentally sensitive land from production to be planted with certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat. In return for enrolling in CRP, USDA, through the Farm Service Agency, provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years.

During its 30-year history, CRP has reduced nitrogen and phosphorous runoff by 95 and 85 percent, respectively, and restored 2.7 million acres of wetlands. It has also protected more than 170,000 stream miles with riparian buffers, enough to go around the world seven times. The program provides 15 million acres that are beneficial to pollinators, and hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat that has resurrected waterfowl and gamebird populations, such as pheasants, quail and prairie chicken.

CRP has sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking nine million cars off the road, and prevented nine billion tons of soil from erosion, enough to fill 600 million dump trucks.