Mark Thomas says one of the things keeping him busiest as a conservation technician in Ripley County this year is inspecting and working with farmers that want to re-enroll grass waterways in the Continuous Conservation Reserve program. The first wave of those waterways installed through the program, which included a rental payment per acre for land in the waterway, are happening now.
He says that competition from corn and soybean prices has tend to slow construction of new waterways and other soil conservation practices. But farmers who already have grass waterways established and in the program are tending to want to put them back in the program, he says.
You have until September 30 when contracts expire to reenroll, but specialists suggest visiting your Farm Service Agency office well before then if you have a grass waterway coming out of the program, and want to enroll it back in continuous CRP. The waterway must be inspected by the Natural Resource Conservation Service or their designees to make sure it is still in good shape and doesn't need reworking before it can be reenrolled in the program.
If there is damage, such as washing along the edge of a waterway, and it's due to natural events and not neglect of maintenance by the landowner or farmer, cost-share to fix the waterway and put it back in top shape before re-enrolling it may be available. It's called repair of the waterway, notes Michelle Howell, a Conservation compliance specialist with Indiana FSA.
If you re-enroll and your waterway is accepted, you will still receive a rental payment per year per acre going forward. In fact, the annual rental payment will likely go up, based on changes in rates over the past 10 years, Howell notes.
Re-enrollment isn't limited to grass waterways. Other CRP practices, such as filter strips along creeks and ditches, and riparian buffers, referring to areas with trees along waterways, can also be re-enrolled.