USDA Resumes Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment
June 20, 2018
As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office between June 4 and Aug. 17, 2018.
FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous sign-up (excluding applications for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP grasslands). This pause allowed USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding the 24 million-acre CRP cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill. New limited practice availability and short sign up period helps ensure that landowners with the most sensitive acreage will enroll in the program and avoid unintended competition with new and beginning farmers seeking leases. CRP enrollment currently is about 22.7 million acres.
2018 Sign-up for CRP
For this year’s sign-up, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices.
FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new sign-up.
USDA will not open a general sign-up this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter with more information.
Additionally, FSA established new ranking criteria for CRP Grasslands. To guarantee all CRP grasslands offers are treated equally, applicants who previously applied will be asked to reapply using the new ranking criteria. Producers with pending applications will receive a letter providing the options.
In return for enrolling land in CRP, USDA, through FSA on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), provides participants with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years. CRP pays producers who remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat.
The new changes to CRP do not impact the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, a related program offered by CCC and state partners.
Producers wanting to apply for the CRP continuous signup or CRP grasslands should contact their USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit https://www.farmers.gov. More information on CRP can be found at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.
From the State Executive Director
It’s that time of year where FSA begins the annual county committee election process across Montana and the United States. Nominations open on June 15th and will close on Aug. 1st. County committees are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA and allow grassroots input and local administration of federal farm programs. I encourage you to consider nominating yourself or a fellow farmer or rancher to serve on the local FSA county committee in your area.
This newsletter has details on important updates to FSA disaster assistance programs, the July 16th 2018 crop certification/acreage reporting deadline, Aug. 1st Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) 2018 enrollment deadline and other upcoming deadlines, the Conservation Reserve Program and farm loans. For more information about any FSA program, contact your local FSA office for assistance.
Best Regards, Mike Foster