Does CREP Pay?by Staff
Capital Press, April 5, 2002
Whether or not landowners have an interest in conservation, they usually have an interest in the bottom line.
In Oregon, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program offers landowners and annual base rental rate on the land, plus a bonus incentive for 10 or 15 years, depending on the contract. The landowner is also reimbursed 115 percent of the costs of installing a buffer or filter strip, and 100 percent of wetland restoration costs.
Right now, CREP offers the best deal to Eastern Oregon ranchers. According to a recent report, the rental rate plus the bonus can amount to two to three times the expected income from grazing livestock. But in coastal Oregon, a livestock operator is more likely to break even or make just slightly more.
For farmers of annual crops, CREP would probably not be a break even deal. Here, the government depends on landowners to be motivated by interest in conservation.
In the Willamette Valley, most land is not eligible, but proponents hope to change that soon.
In order to qualify, a landowner must have owned or leased the property for one year. It has to hold an agricultural commodity and be along a stream that supports a listed fish species in Oregon.
Another funding incentive Oregon could consider is what Illinois and Maryland do -- pay soil and water conservation districts a percentage on processed contracts, although where that money would come from is another question.
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