"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. 99-198, 1985 farm bill) and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Farm Service Agency (FSA) with technical support from other USDA agencies. [...] A number of factors have impacted CRP enrollment recently, mainly high commodity crop prices. These strong prices have encouraged farmers to put CRP acres, even marginal acres, back into production. This pressure could potentially reduce the number of CRP acres offered for reenrollment once they have expired or cause existing current CRP participants to seek an early release from their CRP contract. Some participants also have cited a potentially low CRP rental rate compared to the market rental rate as a reason for decreased enrollment interest. Despite these factors, enrollment has increased under continuous sign-ups and demand for the program, in general, still exceeds the current enrollment level. CRP has contributed to a number of environmental benefits including reduced soil erosion, improved water quality through wetlands and field buffers, reduced fertilizer use, and increased wildlife habitat. The recent expiration of a number of acres from the program, and a reduced reenrollment, has some concerned that a number of the environmental benefits gained under CRP could be lost or reduced if land is returned to production."
CRS Report for Congress, R42783
National Agricultural Law Center: http:nationalaglawcenter.org/