Three Reasons to Take Another Look at The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

CRP rental rates per acre have increased

Field of native prairie grasses
Photo of Conservation Reserve Program land in Iowa courtesy of Plains and Prairie Potholes Landscape Conservation.

CRP rental rates have been adjusted to be more competitive with cash rental rates. For 2016, CRP rental rates are up across Wisconsin, ranging from $70 to over $200 per acre. Rates are determined for each property based on a calculation performed during an in-office visit with your local Farm Service Agency.

Mid-contract management requirements are more landowner-friendly

The CRP program requires mid-contract management to sustain the health and integrity of the perennial cover. In the past, a few situations – unfortunately experienced by many landowners – created a collision course between land and landowner, and the program rules were the “heavy.”

For example, smooth brome, a very common non-native, perennial grass, spreads quickly in the absence of disturbance or competition. Brome also degrades the health of CRP planted to native grasses and wildflowers. In the past, the landowner was responsible for the costs associated with controlling smooth brome through disking and inter-seeding. Under the new CRP, mowing is now an accepted practice to control the spread of smooth brome.

Tax implications

A CRP planting, whether grasslands or trees, is classified and taxed as if it were agricultural land in production. For example, two identical prairies, one in CRP and one not, are taxed very differently. CRP would be classified as “agricultural” and have lower taxation than the non-CRP prairie classified as “unproductive.” Additionally, since CRP is classified as “agricultural,” adjacent woodlands may classify as “ag forest,” which is taxed half the amount of lands classified as “productive forest.”