A producer who is a frequent visitor to our local Farm Service Agency office stopped in the other day.
Sometimes I get the impression that he considers himself as much of a philosopher as he does a farmer. And that could be true, because many times our discussion is deep enough that it winds up driving my staff back to the break room to get away.
These philosophical discussions are much like county committee meetings; the more sunshine outside, the shorter they are. A hot topic lately with both farmers and county committees has been the introduction of the Transition Incentives Program.
This program allows retired or retiring landowners with acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program to continue to receive annual rental payments for up to two years after their CRP contract expires.
In order to qualify for these additional payments, the expiring CRP contract holder must agree to either sell or lease long-term (at least 5 years) the land to a beginning or socially disadvantage farmer. This “transition” cannot be to another family member.
The beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer will then be allowed to return the land to production for sustainable grazing, forage, or crop production.
A “retired owner” is someone who has ended active labor in farming operations or expects to do so within the next 5 years. A “beginning farmer” is a person or entity who has not been operating a farm for more than 10 years and substantially participates in the operation on the farm in “transition”.
If the beginning farmer is an entity, at least 50 percent of the members or stockholders must meet these criteria.
A “socially disadvantaged farmer” is a farmer who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group whose members have be subjected to racial or ethnic prejudices because of their identity as members of the group. Gender is not included as a factor for this program.
The Transition Incentives Program can benefit both the current CRP contract holder through extended funding, and also the beginning/socially disadvantaged farmer by giving opportunities to purchase or rent acreage they might not otherwise receive.
Applications and agreements must be in place before expiration of the CRP contract. Since most CRP contracts expire Sept. 30 of their final year of enrollment, there should be plenty of time for contract holders to solicit potential candidates for 2012.
That’s all for now,