Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a federal/state partnership with a goal of enrolling 265,000 acres of highly erodible cropland and marginal pastureland in conservation cover plantings. The program is entirely voluntary and its goals are to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, improve wildlife habitat and increase farm income on marginal farmland. The 265,000 acres is less than 3% of the farmland in the 57 eligible counties.
What land is eligible for CREP?
Any cropland or marginal pasture within 180 feet of a stream. Highly erodible cropland greater than 180 feet of a stream may also be eligible. In addition, buffer practices, such as contour buffer strips, grassed waterways and wetlands may be enrolled on any cropland. USDA staff are available to determine if your land is eligible.
How will I benefit from enrolling land in CREP?
CREP pays you to place land in conservation cover. CREP rental rates will vary by county. Rental rates will range from about $50 to over $200 per acre, and the average rental rate across the state has been $100/acre. Depending on the practice, additional one-time bonus payments may also be included. PLUS, you will gain all the conservation benefits of reduced soil erosion, improved water quality and wildlife habitat. Placing your marginal land in CREP is a wise financial and conservation investment.
Highlight of CREP
Annual rental rates of $50 to over $200 per acre for placing marginal land in conservation cover for 10-15 years. Additional One-time Bonus payments for certain practices. Up to 100% cost-share for all conservation practices. Offers and sign-ups are continuously accepted
What are my obligations?
Farmers and Landowners must agree to maintain grass, shrubs, or trees for the life of the CREP Contract-10-15 years. No forage or trees may be harvested. No maintenance mowing is permitted during the primary nesting season of April 1- July 30. Mowing in a 3-year rotation is encouraged, but not required, to maintain the beneficial cover. Technical experts are available to prepare conservation plans and help you get the cover on the ground.
What are my costs?
Just a willingness to get involved in Conservation. In addition to your annual rental payment, USDA and the Commonwealth of PA will reimburse you for up to 100% of the cost for establishing/installing buffers, stream bank fencing, native warm season grasses, cool season grasses and legumes, wildlife habitat, wetlands and a variety of other practices.
USDA Farm Services Agency*Natural Resources Conservation Service *PA Department of Agriculture* PA Department of Environmental Protection*PA Game Commission*PA Fish and Boat Commission*PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources*PA Association of Conservation Districts *State Conservation Commission*Ducks Unlimited*Chesapeake Bay Foundation*Western Pennsylvania Conservancy*Center for Rural PA*Pheasants Forever*Governor's Sportsman Advisory Council *PA Farm Bureau* Penn State University
The Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pheasants Forever, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service have entered into Cooperative Agreements to help deliver the benefits of the PA CREP to interested landowners.
In addition to USDA Farm Service Agency and other Natural Resources Conservation Service Staff, Biologists have been hired to determine if land is eligible for CREP and develop conservation plans for interested landowners.
How do I enroll?
Contact your county United States Department of Agriculture Service Center. The process will begin with the Farm Service Agency. The number will be in your phone book under USDA. They will assist you in getting enrolled.
Pennsylvania Game Commission Land Managers, State Game Wardens, and Farm Game Managers are also available to provide assistance. You may also contact your County Conservation District for information on CREP.
All counties in Pennsylvania are currently eligible, except Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe and Pike. A separate Delaware River CREP is proposed to cover most of those counties in the near future.