KANSAS CITY, Mo., (NAFB) — Starting on January 9, The U.S. Department of Agriculture is changing cancellation policies on certain Conservation Reserve Programs.

Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today says the new termination policy is intended to make it easier to pass land from one generation to the next. The land eligible for early termination is among the least environmentally sensitive lands enrolled in the program. In the past, if a landowner decided to terminate a contract early, they would normally be required to pay back all the money they received while enrolled, with interest.

The new policy will waive the repayment requirement only if the land is transferred to a beginning farmer or rancher through either a sale or a lease with an option to buy. This change is one of many set forth by the Land Tenure Advisory Subcommittee formed by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in 2015.

In making the announcement, the USDA noted that the average age of farmers is 58. Land tenure, estate planning, and access to land are increasingly important for the future of agriculture. The USDA conducted a survey on farm succession in 2014, which showed farmland owners expect to transfer 93 million acres to new ownership between 2015 and 2019.