CRP Transition Incentives Program

Program Basics

The 2008 Farm Bill includes a brand new provision in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for a transition option for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.  USDA has titled this option the CRP Transition Incentives Program (CRP TIP)

The CRP TIP offers a special incentive of two years of extra CRP rental payments to owners of land which is currently in the CRP but returning to production, who rent or sell to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who will use sustainable grazing practices, resource-conserving cropping systems, or transition to organic production.

Millions of acres of land covered by expiring CRP contracts are returning to production during the term of the 2008 Farm Bill.  On October 31, 2009, total CRP acreage was 31.1 million acres, down from 36.8 million acres enrolled on September 30, 2007 and below the new acreage limit of 32 million acres imposed by the 2008 Farm Bill. USDA estimates that CRP contracts on another 4.4 million acres will expire in 2010, with an equal number the following year.  The CRP TIP offers an important opportunity for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to get a start on the land while also increasing the likelihood that the ecological integrity of the land will be protected.

The mechanics of the new CRP TIP work as follows:

2008 Farm Bill Changes

This is a new program option within CRP created by the 2008 Farm Bill.

Legislative Authority

Section 2111 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (FCEA) of 2008 amends Section 1235(c)(1)(B) of the Food Security Act of 198, to be codified at 16 U.S.C. Section 3835(c)(1)(B), to create the Conservation Reserve Program Transition Incentives for Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers.

Funding

The 2008 Farm Bill provides $25 million for the program over the five year farm bill authorization period.  The Congressional Budget Office estimated those  costs would likely be distributed over those years as indicated in the chart below.  The program could spend more or less money in any given year than indicated by the estimate.

CRP Transition Option Funding Estimate

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

total cost

0

$1 M

$3 M

$4 M

$8 M

$9 M

$25 M

Implementation Basics

The program is administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).  The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has responsibilities for approving TIP conservation plans and for offering the new farmers and ranchers enrollment opportunities in the CSP or EQIP programs.

FSA issued an Interim Rule for the CRP TIP in May 2010.  The process of  drafting rules and regulations to govern the program implementation was slowed down due to a dispute over the need, timing, and scope of and environmental impact analysis for the changes to the program made by the 2008 Farm Bill.  Although TIP implementation occurred after the expiration of many CRP contracts in 2008 and 2009, FSA responded in part to NSAC’s request to have the TIP apply retroactively.  The Interim Rule provides that TIP incentive payments may be allowed for CRP contracts that expired on or after June 18, 2008 if contract modification began on or before September 30, 2010.  However, the transfer of the land to the beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer cannot have taken place before FSA approves the modification of the landowner’s CRP contract.

All eligible CRP landowners or operators and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers are eligible to participate in the CRP TIP.  The CRP transition incentive payments, however, cannot be made to the retiring CRP owner or operator if transition of the land is to a family member.  But a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher family member may participate in TIP to receive the conservation benefits and assistance.

Requests for participation in the CRP TIP will be taken on a continuous basis at FSA County Offices.

In addition, FSA is developing TIP NET, a website that will help retired and retiring CRP landowners or operators connect online with beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and post when land is available or needed through TIP.

Additional Resources

Information about the CRP TIP is posted on the FSA webpage for the TIP.

To find your local office, visit FSA’s website.