The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) established under the 1985 Food Security Act was initially designed to provide the agricultural community economic assistance while protecting highly erodible cropland. Many of the environmental benefits to soil, water, and wildlife resources have been documented (Dunn and others, 1993; Ryan and others, 1998; Flather and others, 1999; Heard and others, 2000). However, the personal and social effects of the program on CRP participants (or contractees) had not been formally documented. Information had been limited to anecdotal comments from individual participants, such as: "since establishment of the CRP the streams have surface water in them" or "the CRP grasses capture drifting snow, making winter feeding of cattle easier." The Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) wanted to have a better picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the program, according to those most affected by it. In addition, policy makers wanted to get input from program participants on the growing emphasis of the program on long-term management and wildlife habitat requirements.
As a result, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was asked to survey CRP contractees on these issues. Preliminary results from this study have been furnished to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and are being considered as new conservation and management policies for the CRP are being developed (as part of the recently passed Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002). This report includes preliminary results of the study and is being sent to survey respondents. A formal publication of survey results is also being prepared and should be completed by the winter of 2002.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Selected Effects of the Conservation Reserve Program on Program Participants: A Report to Survey Respondents