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USDA boosts climate-smart farming with $1.77B funding

USDA boosts climate-smart farming with $1.77B funding

By Scout Nelson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has allocated over $1.77 billion to support farmers and landowners promoting environmentally friendly farming methods through the Conservation Reserve Program, a significant step towards climate-smart agriculture and forestry in the country.

A crucial element of this initiative, CRP has seen a significant expansion, now embracing over 667,000 participants. These committed individuals have received payments for their conservation efforts spanning more than 23 million acres of private land. This growth — a substantial 21 percent since 2021 — stands as a testament to the administration’s dedication to enhancing the program.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack voiced appreciation for the program's participants, acknowledging their voluntary contributions to conserving natural resources and addressing climate change. Their proactive approach, he noted, not only aids current environmental stability but also ensures the preservation of these resources for future generations.

The commitment to conservation is evident in the top five states for CRP payments, with Iowa leading at over $402 million, followed by Minnesota, South Dakota, Illinois and Missouri. Each state shows promising participation, indicating strong nationwide engagement in sustainable practices.

Since 2021, the USDA has made several improvements to the program, including incentives for carbon sequestration, increased rental rate adjustments, and enhanced payments for water quality practices. A minimum rental rate for the Grassland CRP has been established for increased participant support.

The reach of the program has also extended to Tribal Nations and underserved producers, emphasizing inclusivity and broader participation. Noteworthy developments include the inaugural Tribal Nations CREP agreements and the significant enrollment of 3.9 million acres in 2023, highlighting the program’s critical role in promoting long-term environmental health and agricultural profitability.

This considerable investment in conservation and sustainable practices underscores the USDA's commitment to both the land and the people who cultivate it, marking a significant step forward in the nation's journey toward climate-smart agriculture.


Photo Credit: pexels-karolina-grabowska

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Categories: Minnesota, Sustainable Agriculture

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