South Dakota Grassland Coalition

By Garnet Perman

May 2024

One of the issues contributing to keeping grass right side up is the unbalanced grassland vs. cropland revenue competition. Most producers are familiar with the Conservation Reserve Program. There are several types of CRP programs. The Grassland Conservation Reserve Program is specifically aimed at livestock producers who want to use the land for grazing and enhancing biodiversity. For qualifying producers, the payments may help level the income playing field. According to Owen Fagerhaug, South Dakota’s Farm Service Agency conservation program manager, this year’s program sign up has not been announced. Rules for the 206 program will be published at that time. Because the sign up is yet to be announced, now is a good time to consider if Grassland CRP could benefit your operation.

Grassland CRP has a yearly sign up period

The period of the contract can be for 10 or 15 years. The current cap on payments is $50,000 which has been in effect since 1985. Sen. Thune and others have attempted to have that payment amount raised to better reflect current land values but it is currently at the historical limit. The $50,000 cap is cumulative across the various CRP programs, so if a producer is already getting a different CRP payment, enrollment in Grassland CRP can only be as much as is allowed by the $50,000 cap. Payment is based on 75% of National Agriculture Statistics Service rental rates. The floor across South Dakota is $15/acre although counties with higher land values allow higher payments.

Ranking System

The number of applicants can exceed the available money so a ranking system determines who will receive contracts. The current ranking criteria set by the 205 contract include:

  • The existence of expiring CRP or expiring GRP contracts counts towards ranking points.
  • Size of operation. Small scale livestock operations with under 100 animal units (1 unit= 1 cow) can enroll up to 200 acres, or as many as fit the $50,000 limit.
  • Diversity matters. The land must be in existing perennial grass cover. Diverse native stands rank higher than tame grasses. Be aware that participation in NRCS programs such as EQIP or CSP may negate Grassland CRP participation. Grassland CRP does offer some cost share for water development and fencing that is in addition to the $50,000 limit. The county FSA office can help producers make decisions about which program is of greater benefit.
  • Location matters. In SD, several counties east of the Missouri have been identified as a state focus area. This is determined by a state technical committee comprised of FSA and NRCS personnel, landowners and conservation partners such as Pheasants Forever. Your local FSA office will know if your land is in a focus area.
  • Who you are matters. Beginning farmer/ranchers, veterans, and socially disadvantaged groups such as women or minorities will tally more points.
  • Time and ownership matters. The proposed acreage must have been owned by the applicant for a mini- mum of 12 months prior to that year’s closing period.
  • A participant can offer less than the NASS pasture rent value in order to get additional points.

Other rules determined by FSA may also apply.

More information regarding Grassland CRP can be found at and-services/ conservation-programs/conservation-reserve-program/crp-grasslands-signup-overview/index or google Grassland CRP 205. Information specific to a given county can be obtained by visiting the county FSA office.

If you think Grassland CRP might be an option for you, be on alert for when the 206 signup and rules are released!

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