2014 Farm Bill Field Guide

Conservation Reserve Program

Photo by Pete Berthelsen
CRP has restored more than two million acres of wetlands and associated buffers and reduces soil erosion by more than 300 million tons per year. Download this section.

CRP encourages agricultural landowners to establish conservation cover on sensitive agricultural lands to reduce erosion, improve water quality, and establish wildlife habitat. It has been the backbone of natural resources conservation across a wide swath of the nation’s agricultural landscapes and has yielded immense soil and water conservation benefits by securing topsoil and filtering agricultural runoff. CRP also gives landowners economic stability through dramatic shifts in agricultural markets allowing them to achieve many farming and conservation goals.

The wildlife benefits of CRP became apparent shortly after it was created in 1985. Subsequent Farm Bills modified the program to further specific fish and wildlife conservation objectives, especially in 1996 when wildlife became a co-equal objective with soil and water. Extensive research on the impacts of CRP has indicated that this program has dramatic positive impacts on many species of wildlife, especially grassland-associated species including pheasants and waterfowl.

Producers enrolling in CRP can choose from a variety of CRP Conservation Practices (which are different from the NRCS National Conservation Practice Standards) and participate in special programs including the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement program. The 2014 Farm Bill sets the national cap for CRP at 24 million acres by 2017.