Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts are for 10 years, but now the USDA is offering to let you out of those contracts at no cost. However, there is a catch. Beginning January 9, 2017, USDA will offer an early termination for certain Conservation Reserve Program contracts to make it easier to transfer property to the next generation of farmers and ranchers, including family members.
“The average age of principal farm operators is 58,” said Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Lanon Baccam. “So, land tenure, succession and estate planning, and access to land is an increasingly important issue for the future of agriculture and a priority for USDA. Access to land remains the biggest barrier for beginning farmers and ranchers. This announcement is part of our efforts to address some of the challenges with transitioning land to beginning farmers.”
The purpose of the program is to make more farmland available to beginning farmers, but it will also help enroll more sensitive land into the program. Normally, if a landowner terminates a CRP contract early, they are required to repay all previous payments plus interest. The new policy waives this repayment if the land is transferred to a beginning farmer or rancher through a sale or lease with an option to buy. With CRP enrollment close to the Congressionally mandated cap of 24 million acres, the early termination will also allow USDA to enroll other land with higher conservation value elsewhere.
In addition, land taken out of CRP under this program will receive priority enrollment in other USDA conservation programs. “Starting the next generation of farmers and ranchers out with conservation and stewardship in mind is another important part of this announcement,” Baccam said.
For more details, contact your local USDA office.