CRP general signup begins Monday |

CRP general signup begins Monday

The Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency will hold a general signup for farmers and landowners to put land in the Conservation Reserve Program on Monday, FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce told reporters today.

Fordyce said farmers and landowners have a choice between the general signup and a more resource-oriented continuous signup. The general signup will end on February 28, while the continuous signup is ongoing.

“Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP receive a yearly rental payment for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”) to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands,” USDA noted in a news release.

The program was created in 1985 and Fordyce noted in the telephone press conference that FSA will celebrate the 35th anniversary of CRP in 2020.

“There will be a lot of opportunities” for farmers and landowners to put their land in CRP,” Fordyce said.

He noted that the 2018 farm bill raised the acreage cap from 24 million to 27 million acres.

FSA Assistant Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs Bradley Karmen,who was also on the call, said that between CRP contracts expiring and the additional acreage allowed under the 2018 farm bill, FSA will entertain applications for 7 million acres.

The continuous sign up program is more oriented toward resource preservation and includes filter strips and buffer zones that are usually smaller pieces of land. Karmen said FSA has not determined how many acres will go into general signup and how many into continuous, but will make that decision based on the applications received.

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Market Intel service published an analysis of the CRP program in February. (See link.)

CRP enrollments are conducted through county Farm Service Agency offices.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said today it is pleased that the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP), including the new water quality-focused CLEAR Initiative, are “once again open for business.”

“Those programs give farmers a vital tool back for reducing run-off by buffering their streams and water bodies,” NSAC said.

But NSAC added, “While we are pleased that CCRP and CLEAR are re-starting, we are disappointed that the new interim final rule addresses only the adjunct CLEAR 30 pilot project but not CLEAR itself. This surprising oversight must be corrected in the final version of the rule.”

“We will also be watching closely to see if the farm bill’s sign-up incentive payments and practice incentive payments for CCRP and CLEAR will be fully utilized and made available for all practices and at the maximum levels.”

NSAC also said, “The interim final rule includes the improvements to the CRP Transition Incentive Program (TIP) made in the 2018 farm bill — increased funding and streamlined requirements.”

“The TIP program plays a significant role in addressing one of the most pressing barriers for beginning farmers — access to land. Through CRP TIP, CRP-enrolled landowners planning to exit the program can receive incentives to transfer that farmland to a beginning operator. TIP pulls double duty by both creating new farming opportunities for beginning producers and also helping to maintain the conservation benefits achieved through CRP.

“We urge FSA to expand its outreach for the program and we encourage landowners with contracts that expire in coming years to consider participating in TIP.”

–The Hagstrom Report

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