Virginia Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Updated:05/2019

Thousands of farmers have made the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program(CREP) one of Virginia's most active water quality efforts. The program aims to improve Virginia's water quality and wildlife habitat by offering financial incentives, cost-share and rental payments to farmers who voluntarily restore riparian forest buffers, grass and shrub buffers, and wetlands using CREP-approved nonpoint source best management practices (BMPs). Practice details can be found in the Virginia Agricultural BMP Manual.CREP is an enhancement to the federal Conservation Reserve Program, which was established in 1985 and has enrolled more than 39 million acres nationwide. With an initial budget of $91 million in federal and state funds, this is Virginia's most well-funded conservation program ever. CREP applications are accepted at Farm Service Centers within CREP eligible areas. Click here to find your local Farm Service Center.

Virginia CREP is divided into two regions. The Chesapeake Bay CREPtargets Virginia's entire bay watershed and calls for the planting of 27,000 acres of riparian buffers and 3,000 acres of wetland restoration. The Southern Rivers CREP targets watersheds outside the bay drainage basin and will establish 13,500 acres of riparian buffers and 1,500 acres of wetland restoration.


State cost-share payments are administered through local soil and water conservation district (SWCD) offices. The state will reimburse up to 25 percent of restored buffer or wetland, of conservation practice costs deemed eligible by your Farm Service office. There's also a 25 percent state income tax credit for out-of-pocket expenses, thus further reducing the landowner's cost. Federal reimbursement is made through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for up to 50 percent of a participant's eligible expenses for implementing best management practices (BMP), such as fencing or alternative watering systems.

Rental payments: CREP rental and maintenance payments will be made on contracted acres for either 10 or 15 years (your choice). Rental and maintenance payments of up to $100 per acre per year, combined federal and state, are available in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Rental and maintenance payments of up to $90 per acre per year, combined federal and state, are available in the Southern Rivers watersheds. Rental rates include a federal $5 per acre per year payment for maintenance and a Commonwealth of Virginia $5 per acre per year rental payment. The commonwealth's rental payment will be made as a lump sum after all conservation practices are installed and approved. Consult your local FSA office for your applicable rental rate.
Federal incentive payments: A federal signing incentive payment (SIP) of $10 per acre per full year of the contract and a federal practice incentive payment (PIP) of 40 percent of the eligible cost for riparian buffers and filter strips are available. A 25 percent hydrologic bonus incentive is available for wetland restoration.
Cost-share payments: Forested riparian buffers, filter strips, and wetland restorations meeting minimum NRCS standards are eligible for up to 50 percent federal cost-share reimbursement. Virginia will pay up to 25 percent of the eligible costs for stream and forested riparian buffer practices on all components of CRP conservation practices on enrolled lands. This federal and state cost-share may include fencing, required plantings and development of alternative water sources.

The application process: 

First the landowner visits the nearest Farm Service Center to initiate CREP application process. If FSA determines that the land is eligible, a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservationist visits the site with the landowner to determine and design appropriate conservation practices. FSA measures the CREP acreage, and CREP farm conservation plans and contracts are written, approved and signed. After that, once the SWCD application is completed, the landowner is eligible for all CREP payments.

Once the landowner finishes installing the BMP and it is certified, the landowner submits bills for cost-share to FSA. FSA and the local SWCD make the cost-share payments. The SWCD also pays out the state's one-time, lump sum rental payment. FSA conducts random spot checks throughout the life of the contract and continues to pay annual rent throughout the contract period.





Contact Virginia Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

REMINDER: This listing is a free service of VirginiaLandCAN.
Virginia Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is not employed by or affiliated with the Virginia Land Conservation Assistance Network, and the Network does not certify or guarantee their services. The reader must perform their own due diligence and use their own judgment in the selection of any professional.


Contact Virginia Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
600 E. Main St.
24th Floor
Richmond, VA  23219
Phone: 804-786-6124

Service Area

Statewide service provider in:
  • Virginia