December, 2004 -- Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced in late October that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would accept 1.188 million acres of the nation?s most environmentally sensitive land into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
The 2002 Farm Bill authorized the expansion of CRP enrollment to up to 39.2 million acres from the previous cap of 36.4 million acres.
USDA received more than 26,000 offers for enrollment during the Aug. 30 to Sept. 24, 2004, sign-up time-frame and accepted 19,732. A total of 1.672 million acres was offered, of which 1.188 million acres was accepted.
First established by Congress in 1985, the CRP allows eligible farmers and ranchers to voluntarily establish long-term conservation practices on highly erodable and environmentally sensitive cropland. In exchange, enrollees receive 10 to 15 years of annual rental payments and cost-share assistance for maintaining those practices.