Ask FSA Andy about new Conservation Reserve Program

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Hello Friends,

So, do you really hate the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)? Maybe “hate” is a strong word.

I have always discouraged my kids from saying hate and finding some other substitute. OK, maybe the question should be “do you really dislike CRP?”

I have talked to many farmers over the years who are not crazy about the program. Taking acres out of production seems to contradict the goal of maximizing production on every acre.

More acres

Producers are always looking to farm more acres and grow their empires. This is particularly true in areas where competition for land is strong. USDA recently announced a Grassland option under CRP that may allow farmers to have the best of both worlds.

Acres enrolled in CRP under this Grassland Option are allowed to be grazed or hayed as part of the program. These activities are permitted to be done as part of a larger grassland management plan.

This means you may be required to modify the way you hay or graze the acreage, such as dividing a large pasture into multiple smaller ones or limiting hay harvest at certain times of the year.

Multiple differences

Allowing of regular harvest from the acreage is only one way this option is significantly different than traditional CRP enrollment. Land eligibility under the Grassland Option does not require cropping history like traditional CRP.

Land that has been in hay or pasture for any number of years can meet eligibility for enrollment. Annual rental payments are also calculated differently than traditional CRP, which uses soil rental rates to determine maximum payment values.

Rental rates under this Grassland Option are significantly lower than traditional CRP. For Ohio, these rates are anywhere from $15 to $40 per acre, depending on what county the land is in.

However, this option does provides cost share for fencing, access control, and providing water sources for livestock.

Enrollment into the Grassland Option of CRP is determined on a competitive basis. Applications can be filed at any time, and will be ranked based on factors such as land cover, location of the offered acreage, and existence of grazing operations.

More benefits

There are also additional points earned if you are a beginning, veteran, or socially disadvantaged farmer.

The first sign-up for this option has already started and will end Nov. 20. All eligible offers received by that date will be ranked and the offers providing the greatest benefits according to the factors will be selected for enrollment.

More information on the ranking system and offer process is available at your local FSA office.

That’s all for now,

FSA Andy

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