Conservation Reserve Sign-up Underway Now

Opportunity opens to enroll or re-enroll in CRP.

Published on: Aug 6, 2010

You can sign up for continuous CRP practices anytime. Those are basically grass waterways, filter strips, buffer strops and a few other practices. Buy you haven't had many opportunities as of late to sign up for the original program, the Conservation Reserve Program. It was created more than 20 years ago to protect fragile lands. Many believe it also serves as a method to hold down crop production, plus greatly reducing soil erosion on marginal lands.

Julia Wickard, executive director of the Indiana Farm Service Agency, officially announced a CRP general sign-up last week. Sign-up began Monday of this week, and continues through August 27. As in the past, this will be a competitive process. Your land that you offer will be compared against land offered by others nationwide.

Congress has authority to allow a general signup through the 2008 Farm Bill. It authorized USDA to maintain enrollment in CREP at 32 million acres.

As before, contracts are either for 10 or 15 years, however you chose to offer your land for bid. The land must meet certain requirements to qualify. Your local FSA office can help you put teeth into what 'environmentally sensitive' lands mean.

For the long-term commitment, the landowner receives annual rental payments, and up to 50% cost-share to establish conservation practices on the site. Typically, conservation practices boils down to establishing either permanent grass cover, often a warm-season grass like switchgrass or Indiangrass, or else devoting the land to trees.

Nationwide, about 4.5 million acres are rolling out, or expiring, from CRP this fall. Their long-term contracts are up. Landowners who have those acres may make new contract offers if they wish, officials say.

Contracts that are awarded become effective Oct. 1. That's the start of a new fiscal year for the government.

The amount of land in CRP in Indiana varies widely, depending upon which county that you are in. CRP general sign-up ahs tended to be more popular where the ground is only marginal as cropland. Once entered in the program, CRP land can't be mowed for hay or grazed under normal conditions.

Contract price offered isn't the only factor that determines if your land that you offer for bid will be accepted into the program. FSA ranks and evaluates eligible land offered for the program. Most of the factors used to rank properties relate to environmental sensitivity of the tract that is offered for the program.

Visit your local FSA office soon for details on this important program.