Conservation Reserve Program Transition Option for Beginning or Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers

Anna Jones-Crabtree commented that, “As beginning farmers, Doug and I could have benefited greatly if the CRP Transition Option had been in place when we were purchasing our farm last year.” Read more about Anna and Doug in this newsletter article.

How Does it Work? | Resources | Learn More

The CRP Transition Option offers a special incentive of two years extra CRP rental payments to owners of land currently in CRP but returning to production who rent or sell the land to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.


What is the Conservation Reserve Program?

CRP is a land set-aside program where landowners are paid to establish soil conserving and enriching plant mixes. Landowners are not allowed to harvest or graze the CRP acres except under emergency conditions. Establishment of CRP acres has led to human depopulation in some rural Midwestern and Western counties. Transitioning CRP acres to beginning farmers and ranchers provides access to land to for beginners willing to farm the land with a conservation plan and rural communities an opportunity to increase their populations.

How Does it Work?

  • One year before the end of a CRP contract, a landowner with enrolled CRP who is participating in the CRP Transition Option can allow a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer/rancher to begin to make conservation and land improvements and/or begin the organic certification process on land covered by the CRP contract.
  • On or near the date that the CRP contract is terminated, the landowner may sell, enter into a long-term lease, or lease with an option to purchase, some or all of the land enrolled in CRP to a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer/rancher.

  • The participating beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher must develop and implement a conservation plan approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
  • Participating beginning farmer/ranchers have the option of enrolling in the Conservation Stewardship Program or the Environmental Quality Incentives Program when they take possession of the land. They also have the option of re-enrolling parts of the land into CRP through the continuous sign-up CRP for conservation buffer practices (contour grass strips, riparian buffers, grassed waterways).
  • The United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency will continue making payments to the original CRP landowner for two additional years after the end of the CRP contract.


Retired or retiring owner or operator means an owner or operator of land enrolled in a CRP contract who has ended active labor in farming operations as a producer of agricultural crops or expects to do so within 5 years of the CRP contract modification.

Beginning farmer or rancher means a person or entity who has not been a farm or ranch operator for more than 10 years; materially and substantially participates in the operation of the farm or ranch involved in CRP contract modification; and if an entity, is an entity in which 50 percent of the members or stockholders of the entity meet the first two criteria.

Socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher means a farmer or rancher who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. Gender is not included.

Ready to Transition CRP Acres?

Landowners looking to help a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher by leasing or selling their land when it expires from the CRP should contact their local Farm Service Agency (click here to find your office) to take advantage of this provision.

The Center for Rural Affairs is also hosting a Farm Bill Helpline to answer questions about the CRP Transition Incentives Program and other conservation programs. Call (402) 687-2100 and ask for the Farm Bill Helpline or send an email to Traci Bruckner at

Landowners should also contact the Center for Rural Affairs LandLink program. The Center for Rural Affairs and other organizations across the country operate linking programs to connect retiring farmers and ranchers with beginners. To learn more about the Center's Land Link program, see information here or contact Wyatt Fraas by phone at (402) 254-6893 or send an email to


National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s page on the Conservation Reserve Program – Transition Option

United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Program Page Conservation Reserve Program – Transition Option.

Find your local Farm Service Agency Office, click here.

Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Guide to Conservation Buffers.


Connecting Beginning and Retiring Farmers: Land Matching Programs
The Center for Rural Affairs’ Land Link program matches retiring farmers and ranchers with beginners and others who wish to farm or ranch. The first of its kind, Land Link has been replicated in 20 states and in Japan, Australia and Canada.


Conservation Reserve Program Transition Incentives Program Up and Running - Farm Bill Help Line Open to Assist Producers, Center for Rural Affairs News Release.

USDA Opens a CRP Land Rush,

USDA Seeks Conservation Acres for New Farmers, Des Moines Register.

Learn More

Call Traci Bruckner at (402) 687-2103, Ext. 1016 or by emailing her at