If you own erodible agricultural land that has been consistently cropped, you may be eligible to participate in one of several United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs providing financial incentives for following conservation practices and keeping your land idle.
Conservation Reserve Program
The Conservation Reserve Program is administered through the USDA's Farm Services Agency and provides annual payments to participants who agree to take their land out of crop production and establish conservation-friendly vegetative cover crops instead. Participants enter into contracts for 10 or 15 years. Annual payments are based on agriculture rental value.
Farmable Wetlands Program
USDA's Farmable Wetlands Program aims to restore up to 1 million acres of farmable wetlands by taking recovered wetlands out of agricultural production and establishing vegetation more conducive to improved wildlife and hydrology. Eligible land must have been previously farmed and cropped a minimum of three out of the last 10 cropping years.
Grassland Reserve Program
USDA's Grassland Reserve Program provides annual payments to help land owners conserve pasture, grassland and rangeland, particularly where there is the threat of urbanization or conversion to other uses. A management plan is required. Participants must limit future cropping practices, but are allowed to carry out grazing and activities related to forage production.
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