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Finstad introduces new CRP-related legislation

First District U.S. Rep. Brad Finstad has introduced the CRP Modernization Act, which is intended to make improvements to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) by utilizing science-based targeting of acreage for enrollment while protecting marginal and unfarmable land for conservation and wildlife habitat, a press release explained.

The CRP Modernization Act makes commonsense improvements to the program, ensuring farmers, especially young and beginning farmers, are not competing with the federal government for prime farmland, the release added..

“The time is ripe to meaningfully modernize the Conservation Reserve Program to better reflect the conservation needs of farmers and landowners,” Finstad said. “For too long, CRP general enrollment has chased acres and dollars, incentivizing producers to take prime farmland out of production, rather than focusing on marginal and vulnerable land for important soil and wildlife conservation practices. Instead, this bill crafts a program for the future, using science-based soil metrics to target CRP acres toward the most vulnerable land, while ensuring farmers and landowners continue to have the tools to protect our most valuable resources.” 

The CRP Modernization Act would: 

  • Require USDA to utilize the land capability classification system based on soil quality to approve acreage rental rates for General and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) enrollment.

  • Class 1–2: 85% of the county average soil rental rate; 

  • Class 3:  100% of the county average soil rental rate;

  • Class 4-7: 115% of the county average soil rental rate.

  • Establish a decreased rate equaling 85% of the initial sign-up rate for landowners who choose to reenroll in a new CRP contract. For example, landowners who choose to reenroll Class 4-7 soil would receive 97.75% of the county average soil rental rate. ( For each subsequent reenrollment, the percentage would decrease by an additional 10%.)

  • Clearly define eligible CRP cost-share opportunities and practices for continuous enrollment on marginal land, including mid-contract management activities.

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