ERS Report Examines Conservation Reserve Program Cost and Quality Tradeoff

USDA Economic Research Service has published Cover Practice Definitions and Incentives in the Conservation Reserve Program. The report explores the tradeoff between quality and cost for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants and USDA. This study examines recently developed data on the costs of cover practices to demonstrate how CRP’s use of ranking points in the Environmental Benefits Index ranking tool and cost-share payments combine to incentivize some participants to adopt higher public-benefit practices. Based on the observed relationship between practices choices and costs, the study predicts how changes to the program costs and point system could influence the cover practices chosen by program participants.