Pheasants Forever Nebraska

USDA Announces Dates for Conservation Reserve Program General and Grasslands Signups

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set a July 23, 2021, deadline for agricultural producers and landowners to apply for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General signup 56. Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications for CRP Grasslands from July 12 to August 20. This year, USDA updated both signup options to provide greater incentives for producers and increase its conservation benefits, including reducing the impacts of climate change.

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Higher Rental Rates and New Incentives

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2021 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA will open enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with higher payment rates, new incentives, and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation.

To learn more about updates to CRP, read the “What’s New with CRP” fact sheet.

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CRP general signup opportunities and information

FSA is currently taking applications for both the CRP general and continuous signups. The CRP general signup opened Jan. 4, and a deadline has not been set. FSA is also accepting applications for the Soil Health and Income Protection Program through July 16, 2021 and proposals for the CRP Climate Change Mitigation Assessment Initiative through July 2, 2021. FSA will announce additional details soon on signups for CRP Grasslands, and Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers 30-year contracts.

Step 1: Learn the basics of CRP enrollment

If you’re looking for information on the Conservation Reserve Program and how to enroll, you’ve come to the right place. Watch this video to get a better understanding of the program basics such as eligibility requirements, enrollment steps, and what producers should know as they prepare for the General CRP sign-up January 4th to February 12, 2021. If you have any unanswered questions, we invite you to join us for live Q & A sessions on Zoom. Register here!


For more information on CRP, visit fsa.usda.gov or contact your local USDA Service Center.

Step 2: CRP Q & A Sessions on Zoom

The Q and A Sessions have past. The sessions were recorded and can be viewed below. If you still have questions about the upcoming CRP signups, please reach out to your local USDA Service Center or Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist.

CRP updates

The 2018 Farm Bill raised the CRP acreage cap from 24 million to 27 million acres by FY 2023. This includes a minimum allocation of 2 million acres for CRP Grasslands.

During a CRP general signup, land is offered into the program on a competitive basis and ranked based on environmental benefits and costs. 3.4 million acres (89% of offers) were accepted during the last CRP general signup, including 131,209 acres in Nebraska.

Environmental Benefits Index

Because CRP is competitive, not all offers will be accepted into the program. Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) factors are used to score and rank each tract of land offered for general enrollment. The following fact sheets provide an overview of EBI factors, as well as insight on how producers can maximize EBI points and increase the likelihood that an offer will be accepted.

CRP General EBI fact sheet
EBI quick hitters

Soil Rental Rates

The 2018 Farm Bill limits CRP soil rental rates general CRP and continuous CRP enrollment contracts to not more than 85% and 90% of the average county rental rate, respectively.

Nebraska County Average Soil Rental Rates for General CRP
Nebraska County Average Soil Rental Rates for Continuous CRP

Step 3: Contact your local USDA Service Center

FSA administers CRP while conservation planning assistance is provided by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and technical service providers (TSP) including Pheasants Forever’s Farm Bill Wildlife Biologists. To submit a CRP offer, producers must contact their local FSA office. FSA will accept offers only during the enrollment period. Producers are also encouraged to consult with NRCS or Farm Bill Wildlife Biologists to discuss conservation goals and options to increase the likelihood that a CRP offer will be accepted.

Additional Resources:

USDA Expands and Renews Conservation Reserve Program in Effort to Boost Enrollment 

In 2021, CRP is capped at 25 million acres, and currently 20.8 million acres are enrolled. Furthermore, the cap will gradually increase to 27 million acres by 2023. To help increase producer interest and enrollment, FSA is:

  • Adjusting soil rental rates. This enables additional flexibility for rate adjustments, including a possible increase in rates where appropriate.
  • Increasing payments for Practice Incentives from 20% to 50%. This incentive for continuous CRP practices is based on the cost of establishment and is in addition to cost share payments.
  • Increasing payments for water quality practices. Rates are increasing from 10% to 20% for certain water quality benefiting practices available through the CRP continuous signup, such as grassed waterways, riparian buffers, and filter strips.
  • Establishing a CRP Grassland minimum rental rate. This benefits more than 1,300 counties with rates currently below the minimum.

Contact a biologist

Pheasants Forever’s Farm Bill Wildlife Biologists work one-on-one with landowners in Nebraska to help them enroll in local, state, and federal conservation programs such as CRP. Biologists also provide technical assistance for CRP establishment, cover upgrades, and other management activities. Contact a biologist to schedule a field visit or to discuss enrollment opportunities. We also have a series of habitat management fact sheets and videos that might help answer your questions.

Need more incentives to enroll?

Landowners may qualify for incentives by working with a private lands biologist from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Additionally, landowners may receive up to $10 per acre in exchange for providing public hunting access on CRP. Through the Berggren Plan for Pheasants, the Commission is concentrating on improving habitat and hunter access in 8 areas of Nebraska. For more information, visit CRPsignup.com or reach out to a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission biologist by contacting an office near you.

Signup Period: Jan.4, 2021 to Jul. 23, 2021
Producers with eligible lands compete nationally for acceptance based on an environmental benefits index (EBI) during specified enrollment periods. Producers may submit offers below soil-specific maximum rental rates and select wildlife-enhancing vegetative covers to increase EBI ranking.

Signup period is ongoing.
Producers with eligible lands may enroll certain high priority conservation practices, such as filter strips, riparian buffers, and wetlands at any time during the year without competition. In addition to annual soil rental payment and cost-share assistance, many practices are eligible for additional annual and one-time up-front financial incentives.

Signup Period: Jul. 12, 2021 to Aug. 20, 2021
CRP Grasslands helps landowners and operators protect grassland, including rangeland, pastureland, and certain other lands while maintaining the areas as grazing lands. No cropping history is required. A separate CRP Grasslands signup is offered each year following general signup.

Open Fields and Waters (OFW) is a voluntary program that offers financial incentives to landowners willing to allow public walk-in access for hunting, trapping, and/or fishing. Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields and other undisturbed grasslands are ideal for OFW. To enroll in OFW, contact your local Nebraska Game & Parks Commission office.