NSAC's Blog

USDA Releases Final FY10 Contract and Payment Data for Easement Programs

November 19, 2010

On Friday, November 12, USDA officially announced that it obligated nearly $550 million to enroll 272,762 acres in the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) in FY 2010.  With this signup–the highest single-year enrollment in WRP history and a 52 percent increase over last year’s 179,000 acres–nearly 2.35 million acres are now enrolled in WRP nationwide.  In addition to enrolling over 272,000 new acres, USDA obligated $28.9 for technical assistance and $42.7 million to restore over 129,000 wetland acres under WRP.  The average WRP contract rental rate was close to $2,200 per acre, though this number varies substantially between and within states.

USDA also released FY 2010 signup data for the Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) and the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP).  For GRP, USDA obligated $55.6 million to enroll 95,904 easement acres, $29.3 million to sign rental contracts for 273,519 acres, and $3.4 million for technical assistance.  There are now roughly 481,600 acres enrolled in GRP.

More than $144 million was obligated to enroll 170,412 acres in FRPP.  An additional $4.4 million was obligated to the states for FRPP technical assistance.

Below are lists of WRP, GRP, and FRPP contract, acreage, and payment numbers for the top 5 states in terms of number of contracts signed.

For WRP, there were also a handful of states that, while they had far lower total number of contracts than the top 5, nonetheless had very substantial dollar obligations due to higher valued land and/or larger parcels.  Those were Florida ($145.3 million), Texas ($37.5 million), California ($27.5 million), and Mississippi ($24.8 million)

Wetland Reserve Program

State Number of contracts Acres Enrolled Dollars obligated
North Dakota 205 33,625 $34,302,162
Louisiana 124 22,426 $36,791,263
South Dakota 96 11,294 $19,314,517
Nebraska 84 12,383 $22,957,954
Missouri 81 8,657 $21,320,007

Grasslands Reserve Program – Short Term Rental Agreements

State Number of contracts Acres Enrolled Dollars obligated
Tennessee 76 8,544 $1,243,552
Missouri 34 4,708 $970,066
Ohio 32 1,910 $341,065
New York 30 2,196 $606,706
Texas 28 74,301 $5,567,461

Grasslands Reserve Program – Easements

State Number of easements Acres Enrolled Dollars allocated (non-TA)
Texas 19 7,595 $11,164,665
Kansas 18 12,438 $4,045,215
Iowa 10 1,025 $655,518
Missouri 10 1,062 $1,156,344
South Dakota 8 1,124 $333,081

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program

State Number of parcels Acres Enrolled Dollars obligated
Pennsylvania 41 4,636 $6,442,991
Michigan 34 5,032 $6,134,428
Connecticut 30 3,652 $6,313,020
West Virginia 27 3,793 $5,641,912
Wyoming 21 75,063 $20,655,541

See below for a breakdown of WRP enrollment for special sub-programs:

WRP Sub-program Agreements Acres
MRBI-WREP 18 1,416
General WREP 19 992
Prairie Pothole 213 31,758
Reserve Rights Pilot 10 6,135
Devil’s Lake 13 4,000
30-Year Tribal contracts 4 453

Importantly, the final WRP enrollment numbers include a breakdown of the number of eligibility waivers granted.  The 2008 farm bill amended a provision that restricts the creation of WRP easements on land that has changed ownership during the preceding 12 months to limits on land that has changed hands in the preceding 7-year period.  NSAC supports the purpose of this provision to prevent land speculation which can keep farmland out of the hands of farmers.  However, the increase of the interval from 12-months to 7 years dramatically increases the amount of acreage subject to the restriction on WRP enrollment.  Fortunately, new landowners are allowed to request a waiver that allows enrollment before the 7-year waiting period ends.  Of the 454 waiver requests submitted to NRCS, nearly 97 percent (439 requests) were approved.

Please email gfogel@sustainableagriculture.net for a full breakdown of program data, which includes average contract size and technical assistance dollars by state.

Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment, Grants and Programs

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