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Grassland Reserve Program

Grasslands constitute the largest land cover in Missouri, covering more than 14 million acres. These lands contribute significantly to the economy, provide biodiversity of plant and animal populations, and play a key role in environmental quality. The Grassland Reserve Program contributes funding and technical expertise to protecting these vital grasslands.

The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is a voluntary conservation program that emphasizes support for working grazing operations, enhancement of plant and animal biodiversity, and protection of grassland under threat of conversion to other uses.  GRP implementation is coordinated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Participants voluntarily limit future development and cropping uses of the land while retaining the right to conduct common grazing practices and operations related to the production of forage and seeding, subject to certain restrictions during nesting seasons of bird species that are in significant decline or are protected under Federal or State law. A management plan is required for all participants.

Individuals interested in offering land but unsure if they meet the eligibility requirements or just needing additional information about the program may contact their local NRCS Field Service Centers or FSA office.

The following documents require Acrobat Reader.

 Grassland Reserve Program Fact Sheet (PDF, 107 KB)

How to Apply for the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)

Applications for the Grassland Reserve Program are now being accepted at USDA Service Centers throughout Missouri by both NRCS and the Farm Services Agency (FSA). Applications not funded with the current GRP allocation will remain on file for future funding allocations as available.

After completing an application form at your local USDA Service Center, a Field Office employee will work with you to complete an offer packet. Missouri enrolls as many participants as possible based on the funding received; beginning with the highest ranked applications.

Easement Compensation/Rental Contract Rates

Participants may choose a rental agreement time span of 10-years, 15-years, or 20-years, or a permanent conservation easement.

Rental contract payments are made annually and are in an amount not more than 75% of the grazing value of the land covered by the agreement for the life of the contract. In Missouri, these county-specific rates range from $8.50 to $16.50.

Easements are funded based on an area-wide market analysis value minus the grazing value. The fair market value is determined by a licensed real estate professional/appraiser. Accepted easement applicants will have refusal rights of the USDA easement offer amount.

The following documents require Acrobat Reader.

Missouri GRP Policies

  1. Offers must consist of at least forty (40) contiguous acres unless a written waiver request is approved by the State Conservationist (easements only).

  2. Offers for easements may include grassland and certain incidental areas. Incidental areas can comprise no more than 10% of offer. Where a single grazing system encompasses more than one tract, adjacent tracts may be combined on one application only if they are contiguous.

  3. Applicants must choose a 10-year, 15-year, or 20-year rental contract, or a permanent easement.

  4. Applications will be ranked according to existing practices and/or conditions. Planned practices that are not currently in place will not be used in scoring.

  5. Cost share for restoration activities will NOT be available for inclusion in FY2013 contracts.

  6. GRP prohibits the production of crops (other than hay or seed), fruit trees, and vineyards, and any other activity that disturbs the surface of the land (unless it is an appropriate management activity included in a conservation plan.

Conservation Plan and Contract Development

Successful applicants will be required to develop a management plan for the acres affected by their GRP agreement.  Each paddock/hay field in the plan will be identified as either predominately warm season or cool season species. The conservation plan will address nesting season restrictions as follows:

Warm season grasses:

  • Haying or seed harvest activities are NOT permitted during the primary nesting season (May 1 thru July 15)

Cool season grasses:

  • Haying, seed harvest, or grazing activities are NOT permitted on 25 percent of offered cool season acres during the primary nesting season (May 1 thru July 15)
  • When grazing and/or haying/seeding activities are restricted on 25 percent of offered acres, ungrazed or unharvested areas should be blocked together to the extent possible.  

Missouri GRP Contact Information

Harold Deckerd
Assistant State Conservationist
USDA NRCS State Office
601 Business Loop 70 West, Suite 250
Columbia, MO 65203
Phone: 573-876-0912

National GRP Information