Producers can begin signing up for the Conservation Reserve Program Jan. 4 and CRP Grasslands March 15, USDA has announced. The CRP signup will run through Feb. 12, while the grasslands signup will go through April 23.

The competitive programs both provide annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes. According to USDA data, after a CRP signup last year of about 3.4 million acres, nearly 22 million acres are enrolled in the program nationwide. The 2018 farm bill increases the cap to 27 million acres by 2023.

“Through CRP, farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland,” USDA said.

CRP Grasslands helps landowners and operators protect grassland, including rangeland, pastureland, and certain other lands while maintaining the areas as grazing lands,” the department said. “Protecting grasslands contributes positively to the economy of many regions, provides biodiversity of plant and animal populations, and improves environmental quality.”

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