Joining the Conservation Reserve Program in 2021

As 2020 comes to a close, many are looking optimistically towards the future. A new year brings new opportunities. For farmers and landowners interesting in joining the Conservation Reserve Program, enrollment for general CRP will be opening once more. 

General enrollment for 2021 will begin on January 4th, and it will continue until February 12. During this time, interested prospects may submit a bid to earn a contract and enter the program. 

Alternatively, enrollment for Continuous CRP (CCRP) remains open and will continue to be as long as there are still acres available. If you’re interested in joining CRP in 2021, it’s important to first understand the differences between these sets of programs. 

General CRP vs. Continuous CRP 

General CRP and CCRP are largely similar programs in terms of how they operate and what they accomplish. Still, there are some key differences to understand. CCRP focuses on environmentally sensitive land, and therefore can come with some additional requirements. Should you meet the requirements, however, you are automatically accepted into the program. 

This stands in contrast to general CRP, where enrollment operates under a bidding system. Contract submissions are scored and ranked according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). 

Factors that contribute to your EBI ranking include: 

  • Wildlife Habitat benefits 
  • Water quality benefits  
  • On-farm benefits for reducing erosion  
  • Benefits that will likely endure beyond the contract period  
  • Air quality benefits from reduced wind erosion 
  • Cost 

Within each of these factors are sub-factors that are counted and tallied towards your overall score. The higher your EBI score is, the more likely your bid will be accepted.  

Increasing Your EBI Score for CRP Enrollment 

There are a number of actions you can take to increase your EBI score and increase your chances of entering the program. One of the first and most important factors is the conservation practice (CP) that you decide to enroll inChoosing a more focused program like CRP SAFE may improve your overall score.  

However, that doesn’t mean there is a singular CP that will automatically give you an advantage or a higher score. It’s about selecting a CP that makes sense for your land and your situation. This, in turn, improves the projected success of your project while lowering the overall cost. 

Ultimately, deciding on the right CP may make or break your bid. Still, it’s not the only factor that matters. Your CRP seed mix can have a notable impact on your EBI ranking. Having a more diverse mix of native vegetation, for example, increases your score, as it provides better habitat wildlife and pollinators.  

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be diving deeper into both choosing a CP and selecting a CRP seed mix. In the meantime, if you want to get a jump start on 2021 CRP enrollment, contact FDCE today. We’ve helped countless farmers and landowners successfully enroll in CRP and establish over 370,000 acres of CRP land. 

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