NSAC's Blog

USDA Interim Rule for the Conservation Reserve Program

July 30, 2010

On Wednesday, July 28, USDA issued an interim rule to implement provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) which were not implemented under two previously issued CRP interim rules.  The interim rule is effective immediately.  USDA is taking public comments on the interim rule, due by September 27, 2010, that will be considered when the agency develops a final rule for the CRP.

The interim rule makes the following changes:

  • Provides a definition for pollinator to mean “ . . . an insect or other animal that carries pollen from one flower to another” and authorizes the development of habitat for native and managed pollinators and the use of conservation practices that benefit native and managed pollinators on CRP land.  The Farm Service Agency will work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the State Technical Committees to develop conservation practices standards and habitat characteristics for pollinator habitat and beneficial conservation practices.  The 2008 Farm Bill included a measure, championed by NSAC, that encourages USDA to provide for pollinator habitat and conservation practices that benefit pollinators in the USDA conservation programs.
  • Makes eligible for CRP enrollment land on which alfalfa and other multi-year legumes have been grown in an approved rotation practice.  This land is now included as land on which an agricultural commodity has been grown, an eligibility test for the CRP.
  • Adds incentives for Indian tribes and for limited resource farmer and ranchers.
  • Adds a preference for accepting CRP bids from owners of land who are also residents of the country where the land is located or residents of a contiguous county.
  • Allows for a waiver of land in the continuous CRP, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the Farmable Wetlands Program or the State Acreage for Wildlife Enhancement Program from the statutory cap that limits combined CRP and Wetlands Reserve Program acreage to 25 percent of total land in the county, if the county government agrees.
  • Clarifies the limited harvesting and grazing activities that may be allowed on CRP land.

NSAC supports most of these provisions, particularly those for pollinator habitat, incentives for Indian Tribes and limited resource farmers and ranchers, and the eligibility of land with alfalfa and legumes in rotation.  We will request some additional clarification on the limited harvesting and grazing activities to ensure that the various activities provide for adequate protection of natural resources and promote use of haying and grazing activities that can enhance the protection of natural resources.

Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment, Local & Regional Food Systems

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