Grassland Reserve Program
To assist landowners and operators in restoring and protecting eligible grazing lands, including rangeland, pastureland and certain other lands through rental contracts and easements.
General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Office: Natural Resources Conservation Service
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
DIRECT PAYMENTS FOR A SPECIFIED USE
Food Security Act of 1985This program was repealed by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill), effective February 7, 2014. Therefore, no new enrollments are authorized for this program after that date.
, Public Law 199-198.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
GRP is available on privately owned lands. Eligible land includes grassland, land that contains forbs, or shrubs (including rangeland and pasture land; or land that is located in an area that has historically been dominated by grassland, forbs, and shrubs; and has potential to provide habitat for animal or plant populations of significant ecological value. Incidental lands, in conjunction with eligible land, may also be considered for enrollment to allow for the efficient administration of an easement or rental contract.
Only landowners may submit applications for easements; landowners and others who have general control of the acreage may submit applications for rental contracts. Easements may also be acquired by eligible entities based on a 50 percent cost-share with the Federal government. Eligible entities are defined as units of State, local or Tribal government or nongovernmental organizations that have a charter describing a commitment to conserving ranchland, agricultural land, or grassland for grazing and conservation purposes.
Eligible entities must demonstrate it has the relevant experience and resources to administer a GRP easement. Its charter or mission describes its long term commitment to conserving ranchland, agricultural land, or grassland for grazing and conservation purposes. NRCS evaluates an entities capacity to acquire, manage and enforce easements; it’s staffing and the ability of an entity to provide matching funds before entering into a cooperative agreement. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87. 2 CFR 200 applies only to the program activities implemented through a Cooperative Agreement. This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Any owner or operator or tenant meeting eligibility criteria may submit an application for participation. Applications are accepted in local USDA service centers at any time. USDA will establish criteria to evaluate and rank applications for easement and rental contract enrollment. Ranking criteria will emphasize support for high quality grasslands and shrublands; grazing operations; plant and animal biodiversity;and grasslands under threat of conversion to cropping or development. Individual project selection will be made by State level USDA officials. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102. 2 CFR 200 applies only to the program activities implemented through a Cooperative Agreement. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-110. Applications are accepted in local USDA service centers at any time. Applicants are required to provide general information about the location of the project, contact information for the applicant, and designate the type of enrollment desired by the applicant (i.e. permanent easement or maximum allowed by State law, 10-year, 15-year, or 20-year rental contract). Applications can be obtained through local USDA service centers or the website of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Office. See www.nrcs.usda.gov. Select Programs from the menu, then select Grassland Reserve Program. This program was repealed by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill), effective February 7, 2014. Therefore, no new enrollments are authorized for this program after that date.
NRCS State Offices rank the individual parcels in the applications based on ranking criteria established by the State Technical Committee. The ranking factors are developed based on national and State priorities.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Within a Federal fiscal year (October 1 September 30) based on funding availability.
Applicants or participants may appeal decisions regarding this program in accordance with 7 CFR Part 614 and Parts 11 and 780.
How are proposals selected?
How may assistance be used?
GRP easements and rental contracts are emphasize support for working grazing lands. All participants are subject to the Adjusted Gross Income Provision set forth in 7 CFR Part 1400. This limitation provides that individuals and entities that have an average adjusted gross income exceeding $1 million for the three tax years immediately preceding the year the contract is approved are not eligible to receive program benefits, unless 66.6 percent of the adjusted gross income is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry operations. Easements and rental contracts will (1) permit grazing on the land in a manner that is consistent with maintaining the viability of the native and natural grass, shrub, forest, and wildlife species adapted to the locality; (2) permit haying, mowing, or harvesting for seed production, except during the nesting and brood-rearing seasons for birds in the area that are in significant decline; (3) allow for fire rehabilitation and construction of firebreaks, fences, watering facilities and practices that protect and restore the grasslands functions and values; and (4) prohibit the production of row crops, fruit trees, vineyards, or any other agricultural commodities. Both easements and rental contracts will require that the land is managed to maintain the viability of the plant community as described in the conservation or grazing management plan.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Annual reports on the status of the easements acquired will be prepared by the eligible entity and submitted to the NRCS State Office.. No cash reports are required. Fund disbursement reports are prepared by NRCS. No performance monitoring is required. Expenditure reports are not applicable. No performance monitoring is required.
In accordance with the provisions of 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements, non-Federal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $750,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 2 CFR 200.503. An audit may be made in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular No. A-102 Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and local governments and other related Circulars.2 CFR 200 applies only to the program activities implemented through a Cooperative Agreement.
Records of easements acquired will be maintained for the life of the easements by the eligible entity and NRCS.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formulas are not applicable to this program.
Matching Requirements: Percent: 50.%. For GRP acquisitions made through a Cooperative Agreement, each eligible entity is required to provide, in cash, at least 50 percent of the purchase price of the conservation easement. Purchase price is defined as the appraised fair market value minus any landowner donation. The landowner donation is not a cash donation, but is merely the reduction in value the landowner will accept as payment for the sale of the conservation easement. Each eligible entity is required to fund its own administrative costs in acquiring easements, such as surveys, appraisals, deed preparation, title searches, and costs incurred in restoring, managing and enforcing the easements.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Easement duration is either perpetual, or the maximum duration permitted by State law. Financial assistance for easement acquisition is provided at closing. For rental contracts, payments are made annually on the agreement anniversary date of USDA approval. For both easements and rental contracts, if restoration activities are required, financial assistance for such activities is provided when required practices are established. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: lump sum.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
See Regional Agency Offices. Local Service Centers can be found in the blue pages of the local telephone directory under the heading USDA Service Center or through the office locator assistance on the NRCS website found at www.nrcs.usda.gov.
Jerome Faulkner 1400 and Independence Ave, SW
, Washington, District of Columbia 20250 Email: Jerome.Faulkner@wdcusda.gov
(Salaries) FY 14 $806,000; FY 15 est $11,961,000; and FY 16 est $0. (Direct Payments for Specified Use) FY 14 $646,000; FY 15 est $13,015,000; and FY 16 est $22,000,000
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
The 5 year average estimated cost per acre for easement acquisition was approximately $400, ranging from $65 per acre to over $30,000 per acre. The average estimated cost per acre for rental contracts was $134 per acre over the life of the rental contract. Program Accomplishments (130):
Over 250 GRP easements were acquired on over 117,000 acres.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
GRP rental contracts are limited to $50,000 per person per year. GRP restoration agreements are also limited to $50,000 per person per year. Grassland Reserve Program Website; www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/grp..
Examples of Funded Projects