USDA to Open Signup for Conservation Reserve Program on December 9
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 5, 2019 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is opening signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on December 9, 2019. The deadline for agricultural producers to sign up for general CRP is February 28, 2020, while signup for continuous CRP 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.
“The Conservation Reserve Program is one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors and a critical tool to help producers better manage their operations while conserving natural resources,” Secretary Perdue said. “The program marks its 35-year anniversary in 2020, and we’re hoping to see one of our largest signups in many years.”
CRP has 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill lifted the cap to 27 million acres. This means farmers and ranchers have a chance to enroll in CRP for the first time or continue their participation for another term.
Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U.S. The program was originally primarily intended to control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. This Farm Bill program has evolved over the years, providing a variety of conservation and economic benefits from coast to coast. CRP has:
•Prevented more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;
•Reduced nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively;
•Sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road;
•Created more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world 7 times; and
•Benefited bees and other pollinators and increased populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and many other birds
By enrolling in CRP, producers are improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and restoring habitat for wildlife. This in turn spurs hunting, fishing, recreation, tourism, and other economic development across rural America.
CRP Enrollment Options
CRP general signup will be held annually. The competitive general signup will now include increased opportunities for enrollment of wildlife habitat through the State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative.
While some practices under SAFE will remain available through continuous signup, CRP continuous signup will focus primarily on water quality within the Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers (CLEAR) Initiative. The 2018 Farm Bill prioritizes water quality practices such as contour grass strips, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetlands and a new prairie strip.
USDA will also be working with Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) partners to relaunch CREP continuous options in each state under new statutory provisions. CREP will continue to target high-priority local, state or regional conservation concerns.
CRP Grasslands signup helps landowners and operators protect grassland, including rangeland, and pastureland and certain other lands while maintaining the areas as grazing lands. A separate CRP Grasslands signup will be offered each year following general signup. The sign-up period for CRP Grasslands in 2020 runs from March 16, 2020 to May 15, 2020.
Later in 2020, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will roll out pilot programs within CRP: CLEAR 30, which allows contracts expiring with CLEAR practices to be reenrolled in 30-year contracts and in the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) in the prairie pothole region. More information on these programs will be announced in the new year.
The CRP Transition Incentives Program (TIP) is an option for producers interested in transitioning land to a beginning farmer or rancher or a member of a socially disadvantaged group to return land to production for sustainable grazing or crop production. CRP contract holders no longer need to be a retired or retiring owner or operator to transition their land. TIP participants may have a lease less than five years with an option to purchase, and they have two years before the end of the CRP contract to make conservation and land improvements.
Previously Expired Land
Land enrolled in CRP under a 15-year contract that expired in September 2017, 2018 or 2019, may be eligible for enrollment if there was no opportunity for re-enrollment and the practice under the expired contract has been maintained.
CRP Rates and Payments
FSA recently posted updated soil rental rates for CRP. County average rates are posted on the CRP Statistics webpage. Soil rental rates are statutorily prorated at 90 percent for continuous signup and 85 percent for general signup. The rental rates will be reviewed annually. Under continuous signup, producers also receive incentives, including a signup incentive payment and a practice incentive payment.
CRP marks its 35-year anniversary in 2020, and FSA will continue to highlight the impacts of the program that was created in 1985 and the many stewardship-minded farmers, ranchers and landowners who have participated over the years. Learn more.
To enroll in CRP, contact your local FSA county office or visit fsa.usda.gov/crp.
By: John Stenen
The farmer and his young son stood on the porch looking at their devastated crop of grain as a huge hail and windstorm passed through. Harvest was to begin in just a couple of days. The young boy, with tears in his eyes, looked up at his dad, expecting to hear words of despair. But he was surprised to hear his dad begin to softly sing, “Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” Years later, the little boy, grown to manhood, said, “That was the greatest sermon I have ever heard.” That boy grew up with such admiration for his father because whether times were good or bad, his father always demonstrated faith in God, believing that even in the bad, God, could bring good out of it.
I wonder what kind of influence we fathers have on our children? We have them for such a short time and we are either influencing them to continue on and live for God; or, our influence is such that they go the way of the world and God is rarely in their thoughts. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19). “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Ps. 34:8).
We all face adversity from time to time. Thank God the storms of life don’t last forever. But how we react in those ‘tough times’ will often determine whether we will come through it blessed, or defeated. Some folks immediately begin cursing, they get extremely mad and start playing the blame game, even getting angry at God and blaming Him for all their troubles. Yet, others react in a godly manner, trusting God that He will see them through this terrible time of trouble, and provide for all their needs. They remember the promise that our God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we ask or think. (Eph. 3:20). Their hearts are full of thanksgiving and praise. I believe God really wants to bless folks like that. “The eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the whole earth, showing Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are upright before Him.” (2 Chron. 16:9). Remember how God blessed Job after all his trouble? Not only can God bring good out of tragedy, but what a wonderful way to live as we walk in His love, joy, peace, and righteousness. There is no greater life than living for Jesus. God bless.
United Way Campaign Update 12-16-19
United Way of Southwest Minnesota (UWSWMN) announces that $308,148.77 in donations and pledges have been recorded to date during the annual fund-raising campaign.This means we’ve surpassed the halfway mark to our $600,000 campaign goal.
Currently, more than 52,600 local people are being served through UWSWMN initiatives, community partner programs and partnerships. With the help of our donors, we are making a difference in our communities, schools and neighborhoods. Every dollar makes a difference.
All donations to UWSWMN are invested in programs to help improve the lives of local people.Here are a couple of examples of how last year’s campaign funds are being invested:2,500 local children receive a book in the mail each month; food is provided to those in need through the Kitchen Table Food Shelves in Marshall, Tracy & Westbrook; and support is provided for victims of domestic violence in Lincoln, Lyon, Yellow Medicine and Redwood counties.
A $30 donation provides a book each month in the mailbox of one child in our service area.A $52 donation provides 385 pounds of meat for the food shelf.A $520 donation provides 4 nights of safe housing in a local hotel for a victim and their children as they flee from violence.
If you’d like to support the work of UWSWMN, contributions can be made online at www.UnitedWaySWMN.org<http://www.UnitedWaySWMN.org> or mailed to UWSWMN, PO Box 41, Marshall, MN 56258. The annual campaign runs through January 31, 2020.