Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)
The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is a voluntary program for landowners and operators to protect grazing uses and other related conservation values by restoring and conserving eligible grassland and certain other lands through rental contracts and easements. Applications may be submitted at any time.
What's Eligible and How Does It Work?
GRP is available on privately owned lands, which includes private and Tribal land. Publicly owned land is not eligible. Land already under protection from the conversion to non-grazing uses is not eligible. The 40-acre minimum enrollment requirement was removed in the 2008 Act.
The land must be:
grassland for which the predominant use is grazing, or
the land must be located in an area that has been historically dominated by grassland and provide habitat for animal or plant populations of significant ecological value, and contain historical or archeological resources or address issues raised State, Regional and national conservation priorities.
In addition GRP will be available for land previously enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. CRP contracts that are expiring with 12 months of enrollment are eligible if the land is of high ecological value, and under threat of conversion to uses other than grazing.
To be eligible for GRP an applicant must be:
a landowner for permanent easement participation, or
have control of the eligible acres offered for 10, 15, or 20 year contract participation
In addition the participant must agree to provide such information to USDA that is necessary for determining eligibility for program benefits. The participant will be required to meet adjusted gross income and conservation compliance requirements.
New this year to GRP, eligible entities can apply for up to 50% of the cash purchase price of an eligible easement by entering into a cooperative agreement for entities to own, write and enforce easements.
Eligible entities include any agency of the State or local government or federally recognized Indian tribe. Non-Governmental Organizations are eligible if they meet the following criteria:
Is Organized for, and at all times since the formation of the organization, has been operated principally for one or more of the conservation purposes specified in clause (i), (ii), (iii), or (iv) of section 170(h)(4)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
Is an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of that Code that is exempt from taxation under 501 (a) of that Code;
Is described in section 509(a)(2) of that Code; or is described in section 509(a)(3) of that codes; and is controlled by an organization described in section 509(a)(2) of that Code
Non-governmental organizations must provide evidence of a dedicated account to ensure the long-term, management, monitoring, and enforcement of GRP easements.
Entities must agree to assume the costs incurred in administering and enforcing the easement, including the costs of restoration and rehabilitation.
The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) offers several enrollment options:
Permanent Easements. USDA makes a payment based on the fair market value of the property less the grazing value.
Rental Contracts. 10, 15, or 20-year duration. USDA pays 75 percent of the grazing value in annual payments for the length of the agreement. GRP Rental Rates are available for each Wisconsin county.
Restoration Agreements. USDA pays up to 90 percent of the restoration costs on grassland and shrubland that has never been cultivated and not more than 50 percent on restored grassland and shrubland (land that once was cultivated).
How Applications Are Scored and Ranked
Applications will be scored and ranked based upon several criteria. Higher points are generally awarded for grazing operations, plant and animal biodiversity and other eligible land under the greatest threat of conversion.
GRP Scoring and Ranking System and Instructions (xls file, 1MB)
The 2008 Farm bill established Geographic Area Rate Caps as a method to determine payments for each state. In addition, a Fair Market Value Appraisal will be conducted for each participant that is funded. The easement value will be based on the lower of the two values.
How to Sign Up
Applications are accepted on a continuous basis at local USDA service centers. Once funding has been exhausted, eligible applications will remain on file until additional funding becomes available.
The program will conserve vulnerable grasslands from conversion to cropland or other uses and conserve valuable grasslands by helping maintain viable agricultural operations.
Application for Long-Term Contracted Assistance (AD-1153)
Other forms used in the Grassland Reserve sign-up are available on the national Grassland Reserve website.
For more information about GRP and other conservation programs, contact your local USDA Service Center. The Federal Register notices and rules are also available on-line. You can also visit the national Grassland Reserve website