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Changes to CRP Program Make it Easier to Transfer Land to the Next Generation

Beginning Jan. 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering an early termination opportunity for certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts in order to make it easier to transfer property to the next generation of farmers and ranchers, including family members. Normally if a landowner terminates a CRP contract early, they are required to repay all previous payments plus interest.  The new policy waives this repayment if the land is transferred to a beginning farmer or rancher through a sale or lease with an option to buy.

Former Marine Aaron White and his family are an example of the young farmers this program is designed to help. Aaron has been leasing land and growing his beef business with support from his farming father-in-law, Joe Dunn. He hopes to be able to farm full time with the help of this program and others.

This program comes with additional benefits for beginning farmers and ranchers and for conservation efforts. First, acres terminated early from CRP under this program will be eligible for priority enrollment consideration into the CRP Grasslands, if eligible; or the Conservation Stewardship Program or Environmental Quality Incentives Program, as determined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This means additional funding support for the new generation of farmers and ranchers. Second, since the land that is eligible for the early termination is among the least environmentally sensitive land enrolled in CRP, this program means that USDA can enroll other land with higher conservation value elsewhere while still meeting the Congressionally-mandated cap of 24 million acres.

This change to the CRP program is just one of many that USDA has implemented based on recommendations from the Land Tenure Advisory Subcommittee formed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2015. The subcommittee was asked to identify ways the department could use or modify its programs, regulations, and practices to address the challenges of beginning farmers and ranchers in their access to land, capital and technical assistance.

On announcing the program while touring the Joe Dunn farm in Iowa, Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Lanon Baccam said, “The chance to give young farmers a better opportunity to succeed when starting a farming career makes perfect sense. There are Conservation Reserve Program acres that are rested and ready to be productive, an original goal of CRP.”

Details on the early termination opportunity are available at local USDA service centers. For more information about CRP and to find out if your acreage is eligible for early contract termination, contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or go online at To locate your local FSA office, visit





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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.

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