In February, CRWP sent out a survey to 560 landowners and farm operators that had a conservation reserve program (CRP) contract expire in 2012, 2013, or 2014. We received 291 surveys back, a very good response rate of 52%.
The amount of land coming out of the CRP program in recent years has been a significant concern for those who are concerned about water quality, wildlife habitat, or soil erosion. The purpose of the survey was to learn what respondents did with land that had an expiring CRP contract and to assess the importance of various factors when respondents were considering whether or not to renew their CRP contracts.
An encouraging finding from the survey is that 20% respondents said they left the land in grass or trees even though they didn’t re-enroll it in CRP. It is often assumed that if land is not re-enrolled in CRP that it goes back in to corn and soybean production, but this turns out not to be the case necessarily.
Another encouraging finding is that conservation values (concern about soil erosion, providing wildlife habitat, and protecting water quality) were the three most important factors for respondents when deciding whether to re-enroll in CRP. Land prices and crop prices were two of the least important factors. Economics do play some role though in many respondents decision of whether or not to re-enroll. Increasing the CRP payment per acre was rated as the most important improvement that could be made to the CRP program. For a summaries of the survey results, please see below.