Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
A program created in the Food Security Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-198), to retire from production up to 45 million acres of highly erodible and environmentally sensitive farmland. Landowners who sign contracts agree to keep retired lands in approved conserving uses for 10-15 years. In exchange, the landowner receives an annual rental payment, cost-share payments to establish permanent vegetative cover, and technical assistance. The CRP reportedly has reduced erosion by up to 700 million tons per year. The 2002 farm bill extends authorization to enroll land through FY2007 and caps maximum total CRP acreage at 39.2 million acres. The Act adds a new subprogram to enroll up to 1 million acres of wetlands individually smaller than 10 acres and associated buffers. The Act continues to make the program spending mandatory and finances it through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), adding that the CCC should fund technical assistance in support of the program. As of February 2005, more than 262,000 farms had enrolled 34.8 million acres; states with the greatest participation include Texas, Montana, and North Dakota, each with more than 3 million acres.