USDA opens signup for CLEAR30, expands pilot to be nationwide
Landowners and agricultural producers currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program now have a wider opportunity to enroll in a 30-year contract through the Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers initiative, called CLEAR30. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding CLEAR30 — a water-quality focused option available through CRP — to be nationwide now.
Interested producers with CRP contracts expiring Sept. 30, 2021, should sign up by Aug. 6, 2021. CLEAR30 provides an opportunity for producers to receive incentives for a 30-year commitment to water quality practices on their CRP land, building on their original 10- to 15-year CRP contracts.
“We are excited to expand this option to enable more producers to take their conservation efforts to the next level,” said Zach Ducheneaux, USDA Farm Service Agency administrator. “Offering CLEAR30 in all states enables durable maintenance of conservation investments and enhanced stewardship of the land and waterways on a larger scale.”
These long-term contracts ensure that practices remain in place for 30 years, which improves water quality through reducing sediment and nutrient runoff and helping prevent algal blooms.
CLEAR30 was created by the 2018 Farm Bill to better address water quality concerns. Originally, CLEAR30 was only available in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. Now, access is expanded to agricultural producers nationwide.
Eligible producers must have certain water quality benefiting practices currently enrolled under continuous CRP or through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, under contracts that are expiring on Sept. 30, 2021.
These long-term contracts will help ensure that conservation impacts and benefits remain in place for 30 years, reducing sediment and nutrient runoff and, ultimately, algal blooms. Conservation in riparian areas also provides important carbon sequestration benefits. Traditional CRP contracts run from 10 to 15 years.
Annual rental payments for landowners who enroll in CLEAR30 will be equal to the current Continuous CRP annual payment rate plus a 20% water quality incentive and annual rate adjustment of 27.5%.
How to sign up
To sign up for CLEAR30, contact your local USDA Service Center by Aug. 6, 2021. While USDA offices may be closed to visitors because of the pandemic, Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email and other digital tools. To conduct business, contact your local USDA Service Center. Contact information can be found at farmers.gov/service-locator.
CLEAR30 is an option available through CRP, which is one of the world’s largest voluntary conservation programs with a long track record of preserving topsoil, sequestering carbon and reducing nitrogen runoff, as well providing healthy habitat for wildlife.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect the nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including the soil, air and water. As such, CLEAR30 contracts receive a water quality incentive and a climate-smart practice incentive. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and its agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local and tribal governments.