The 1985 Farm Bill provides for a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) which offers owners or eligible operators of “highly erodible cropland” to keep such land in vegetative cover for ten years in exchange for annual rents paid by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and for the Department’s financial and technical assistance in establishing the cover. Samples were drawn of CRP bidders and nonparticipants; individuals from both groups owned cropland in the same sets of counties that was generally eligible for the program, and land bid for the program had to be either clearly eligible for the program according to available information or possibly eligible. Forty-six point nine percent of nonbidders claimed they did not bid their land into the CRP because they thought it was not eligible for the program. Twenty-four point seven percent thought the annual rent payments expected from USDA were too low. Farm operators who bid land in March and May but not in the August signup failed to do so because of the perceived low level in CRP rent. Farmers who bid in March and May and intended to bid in August cited concern for conserving the land as their primary reason for joining CRP. Reactions to proposed modifications in the CRP show that permitting grazing and/or haying of CRP land, as well as announced levels of acceptable bid ahead of time, by class of land, and base levels on three year average of cash rents per class would make both bidders and nonbidders more willing to bid land.
A National Survey of Farmer Attitudes About the Conservation Reserve Program
J. Dixon Esseks and Steven E. Kraft
Washington, DC: American Farmland Trust
December 01, 1986
Reports and Guides
Conservation Policies and Programs, Farm Bill