Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)
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The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is a voluntary program that assists landowners and operators with conserving and restoring grassland resources on eligible private lands through rental contracts, easements, and restoration agreements. GRP emphasizes supporting haying and grazing operations, maintaining and improving plant and animal biodiversity and protecting grasslands from the threat of conversion to other uses.
Benefits to Participants
Landowners who agree to keep their land in grass can receive annual payments through 10, 15, or 20-year rental contracts, or they can apply for permanent grassland easements that offer a larger lump sum payment.
Who is Eligible to Apply?
For Easements: applicants must own the land
For Rental Contracts: applicants must either own the land or have control of land for the life of the contract.
Applicants must meet conservation compliance requirements for Highly Erodible Land and Wetlands Conservation, and not exceed current Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) requirements for participants in USDA Conservation Programs.
There is no minimum acreage for enrollment.
Private Land is eligible. Publically owned land is not eligible for GRP.
will be required to follow a grazing management plan based on the NRCS prescribed grazing standard for pasture land, or based on the Forage Harvest Management standard for hayland.
Land must be one of the following:
- Grassland, land that contains forbs, or shrub land for which grazing is the predominant use.
- Located in an area that has been historically dominated by grassland and compatible with grazing uses.
- Able to provide habitat for animal or plant populations of significant ecological value if the land is retained in its current use or is restored to a natural condition. Land enrolled in the Conservation Security Program or Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP), or Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) is not eligible for GRP. Land under a contract that is out of compliance cannot be placed into GRP.
GRP Program Wildlife Habitat Requirement
All Grasslands Reserve Program easements are subject to restrictions on grazing, haying, mowing and harvesting for seed production during the nesting and brood rearing season for ground nesting birds, which lasts from April 15th through August 1st. All land enrolled under easements and rental agreements must set aside a minimum of 10 contiguous acres or 20 percent, whichever is larger, to be managed as wildlife habitat for ground nesting birds. The ground nesting bird wildlife habitat acres can be rotated throughout the entire enrolled acreage on a yearly basis.
In order to meet the wildlife habitat requirement of GRP, rental contract participants will meet the wildlife requirement as determined by the “Pennsylvania Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Pasture and Permanent Hayland – Grassland Birds” worksheet (PDF, 48KB). Rental contract holders must score an overall score (Index) of 50 percent (0.5 Index) to ensure adequate nesting and brood rearing habitat for grassland birds. The worksheet evaluates both existing and planned activities. Potential participants who do not meet the minimum score for existing management can improve their score (Planned Condition) through planned practices and still meet the wildlife habitat requirement for GRP.
How to Apply
NRCS will accept GRP applications on a continuous basis year round. Applications will be ranked monthly until funding expires. Applicants who were not approved for funding this year can request their application be retained for consideration next year. Producers may fill out an application form and apply at any USDA Farm Service Agency or Natural Resources Conservation Service office. Click here for a list of offices and their contact information. Landowners who are applying for an easement must provide a copy of their deed to verify ownership. Operators who are applying for a rental contract and do not own the land must provide proof of control of land for the life of the rental contract.
Information and Forms
GRP Application Form AD-1153 (PDF, 108KB)
GRP Appendix (PDF, 41KB)
Rental Rates for 10, 15, and 20 Year Contracts (PDF, 27KB)
Geographic Area Rate Cap (GARC) Rates for Easements (PDF, 59KB)
GRP Easement Deed (PDF, 37KB)
GRP Supplement No. 1 to General Manual (PDF, 176KB)
PA NRCS Program Contacts
Assistant State Conservationist for Operations
USDA Farm Service Agency Home Page