Early Termination of Expiring CRP Acres Allowed in 2022
USDA Loosens Contract Rules in Effort to Offset Absence of Ukrainian Crops in Global Market
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday, May 26, that it would allow Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants in the final year of their contracts to voluntarily request the termination of those contracts following the end of the primary nesting season for fiscal year 2022. This change would allow American farmers to plant more fall-seeded crops (e.g., winter wheat) or to prepare the previously conserved land for crop planting in 2023.
Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency, states that “Putin’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine has cut off a critical source of wheat, corn, barley, oilseeds, and cooking oil, and we’ve heard from many producers who want to better understand their options to help respond to global food needs.” By opening up the possibility of more acres to be used for production, the hope is that American farmers could help fill the shortfall expected due to the ongoing conflict in Europe.
Approximately, 3.4 million acres of CRP are set to expire this year and producers can expect to receive more information about voluntary termination in writing through their local USDA Service Centers. If approved for early termination, producers will be able to hay, graze, or plant a fall-seeded crop before October 1, 2022. The nesting period does not end until August 1 in much of the northern United States. In those colder climates, this flexibility may allow for better establishment of a winter wheat crop or more time to adequately prepare the land for spring planting.
What is CRP?
Congress created the Conservation Reserve Program in 1985 following the public’s increased concern with high levels of soil erosion. The primary purpose of the program is to conserve and improve soil, protect water quality, and provide wildlife habitat by establishing long-term cover on highly erodible land that has previously been used for the production of row crops. In exchange for cost-sharing and rental payments, the USDA encourages farmers to remove environmentally sensitive land from production and to use it to conserve soil, water, and animal habitats. Since its implementation, CRP has contributed to a number of environmental benefits including reduced soil erosion, improved water quality, reduced fertilizer use, and the expansion of various wildlife habitats.
What does the future hold?
By encouraging producers to terminate their participation in this program, Mr. Ducheneaux hopes producers take advantage of this opportunity to potentially expand their farmable acres without any economic penalties. He says it’s possible that farmers in some regions could plant short-season soybeans or wheat crops during this growing season.
As the world of agriculture is continually called upon to expand and feed a growing world population, many look to the USDA to continue increasing their flexibility as issues arise. Additional flexibilities have also recently been added to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Steward Program.