What Is CRP? CREP?

By Carol Dennis, USDA-Farm Service Agency

CREP is the Conservation Reserve Enhanced Program, an enhanced version of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). CRP is a voluntary USDA program that protects environmentally sensitive land by placing it in an approved vegetative cover for a period of 10 to 15 years. In return, farmers are compensated with an annual payment and reimbursement for establishing recognized Best Management Practices (BMPs).

When a state or city identifies a specific resource issue such as drinking water, which can be addressed through CRP, they can develop an "enhanced" program to address that issue. The USDA then agrees to enhance the annual payment to farmers, and the city or state provides additional cost share opportunities for the implementation of these best management practices.

CRP is a partnership forged between farmers and USDA. The New York Ci ty CREP partners farmers, USDA and New York City ; while the New York State CREP joins farmers, USDA and the New York State Department of Ag & Markets.

At this time, Delaware County has three watersheds that are eligible for CREP. Farmers in the New York City watershed are eligible for the NYC CREP, while farmers in the Ouleout and Carrs Creek watersheds, which eventually drain to the Chesapeake Bay , are eligib le for the New York State CREP.

CREP has a contin u ous enrollment open year round. To be eligible for CREP, cropland must have been planted to a commodity crop in four of the six years between 1996 and 2001 and be physically and legally capable of being cropped. Marginal pastureland may also be enrolled, provided it is suitable for use as a riparian, wildlife, or wetland buffer.

CRP/CREP improves water quality, enhances fish and wildlife habitat and helps farmers recover some of the costs to do this for the benefit of all.

CREP Best Management Practices (BMPs) that are eligible for cost share assistance on a farm may include:

  • riparian buffers
  • tree planting
  • fencing
  • wetland buffers
  • filter strips
  • wildlife habitat buffers
  • alternative water sources
  • grassed waterways

These BMPs work hand in hand to protect water quality. The benefits of CRP/CREP include improved water quality, reduced erosion, decreased fertilizer/pesticide runoff, removal of animals from streams, improved aquatic habitat, reduced thermal stress, establishing wildlife habitat, good farming practices and the protection of public drinking water supplies.

 

A newly established riparian forest buffer will protect stream banks from erosion caused by animal traffic and eliminate direct manure deposits in the stream. Young tree seedlings grow within the protection of green “tree tubes” along both sides of this small stream.

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