"The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides payments to agricultural producers to take highly erodible and environmentally sensitive land out of production and install resource conserving practices for 10 or more years. CRP was first authorized in the Food Security Act of 1985 (P.L. [Public Law] 99-198, 1985 farm bill) and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) with technical support from other USDA agencies. Participants offer land for enrollment through two types of sign-up: general and continuous. General sign-ups are competitive and only open during select times. Continuous sign-ups are not competitive, always open for enrollment, and offer additional financial incentives to those who qualify. Continuous sign-ups are targeted to specific environmental and resource concerns and operate through a number of initiatives. The largest and most well known is the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), which partners with states to address agricultural-related environmental concerns in specific geographic regions. While the majority of current acres enrolled were under general sign-ups (24.3 million acres), an increasing number are enrolled under continuous sign-ups (5.3 million acres). Program and funding authority for CRP expired on September 30, 2012. Without reauthorization or an extension of authority the agency cannot approve any contracts or process any offers for enrollment. Congress continues to debate the reauthorization or extension of the 2008 farm bill, which authorized CRP to enroll up to 32 million acres. Both the House Agriculture Committee-reported (H.R. 6083) and the Senate-passed (S. [Senate bill] 3240) farm bill would reduce the authorized number of acres to 25 million and reauthorize the program through FY2017."
CRS Report for Congress, R42783