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Grassland Reserve Program

Easement Program Funding Expiration - Update

The Agricultural Act of 2014 establishes the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
It repeals FRPP, GRP, and WRP but does not affect the validity or terms of any FRPP, GRP, or WRP contract, agreement or easement entered into prior to the date of enactment on February 7, 2014 or any associated payments required to be made in connection with an existing FRPP, GRP, or WRP contract, agreement or easement.

For more information on ACEP, please visit the ACEP web page.

2013 Sign-Up Deadline Ended May 10, 2013

The Grassland Reserve Program is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance grasslands on their property through permanent easements or rental contracts (10-, 15-, or 20-year).

The program emphasizes preservation of native and natural grasslands and scrublands support for grazing operations, plant and animal biodiversity, and protection of grassland that is under multiple threats of conversion to other land uses.

Land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is also eligible for enrollment in GRP.

What land is eligible for GRP?

The overall emphasis for FY 2013 enrollment is on preserving native and natural species. Eligible land includes grasslands; land that contains forbs; scrublands (including improved rangeland and pastureland); or land that is located in an area that historically has been dominated by grassland, forbs, or scrublands when these lands have the potential to serve as wildlife habitat of significant ecological value. Land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with an expiring contract in the next 12 months is also eligible for enrollment in GRP.

Is there a limit on the number of acres a landowner may enroll in the program?

There is no maximum or minimum limit.

Who may participate in the program?

Only landowners may submit applications for easements. As proof of ownership, landowners must provide USDA with a copy of the documents with which they took ownership (record of title, LLC Agreement, etc.). Both landowners and operators may participate on rental contracts. Operators must provide USDA proof (e.g., written lease) of control of the land for the duration of the rental contract.

How will my adjusted gross income affect my eligibility for GRP?

The adjusted gross income (AGI) provision of the 2008 Farm Bill impacts eligibility for GRP and several other programs. Individuals that have an AGI exceeding $1 million for the three tax years immediately preceding are not eligible to receive program benefits or payments. However, an exemption is provided in cases where two-thirds of the AGI is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry operations.

GRP easement acquisition or rental contract payment will be reduced by an amount commensurate with the percentage ownership of any AGI ineligible member of legal entity.

What is the application process?

To participate, interested persons should submit an application to their local NRCS or FSA office in the local USDA Service Center. Applications for the program are accepted at anytime.

What are my enrollment options?

Enrollment options are permanent easements and 10-, 15-, and 20-year rental contracts.

Can I graze my grassland while enrolled in GRP?

All enrollment options permit:

  • Common grazing practices that maintain the viability of the grassland.

  • Haying, mowing, or harvesting for seed production, subject to certain restrictions during the nesting season, as determined by NRCS.

  • Fire rehabilitation and the construction of firebreaks, fences, and watering facilities and practices that protect and restore the grasslands functions and values.

Do I need a grazing management plan and conservation plan?

All participants in GRP will be required to implement a grazing management plan, conservation plan, or both, approved by NRCS to preserve the viability of the grassland enrolled in the program.

What do GRP contracts or easements prohibit?

GRP contracts and easements prohibit the production of crops (other than hay), fruit trees, and vineyards that require breaking the soil surface and any other activity that would disturb the surface of the land, except for appropriate land management activities included in a conservation plan.

How is the contract or easement value determined?

The value of an easement will be the fair market values of the land less the grazing value as determined by the lowest of (1) an appraisal or market survey, (2) geographical area rate cap, or (3) the landowner offer.

For rental contracts, the participant receives not more than 75 percent of the grazing value in an annual payment for the length of the agreement. Grazing values will be determined based on local prevailing rental rates.

Is there a payment limitation?

Rental contracts and restoration agreements have a $50,000 annual payment limitation per person per year. Easements do not have a payment limitation.

What should eligible applicants do if their GRP application is not funded?

Once funding has been exhausted, eligible applicants whose applications were not funded will be considered when additional (whether in the current FY or the next FY) funding becomes available if they have informed their NRCS office that they are still interested.

Who will administer the GRP?

Both the NRCS and FSA handle program implementation. Applications will be accepted by either agency on a continuous sign-up basis.

Additional Information

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Program Contact

Randy Childress