The state executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa, John Whitaker, recently announced that the Iowa FSA will conduct a four-week Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up period beginning May 20 and ending on June 14.
"It continues to be our goal to ensure that we use the CRP to address our most critical resource issues," says Whitaker. "Over the last couple of years, our state has experienced both the worst flooding and the worst drought in 60 years. CRP protected environmentally sensitive lands from washing or blowing away. This program also gave livestock producers extra grazing land when they needed it."
In addition to erosion control, CRP provides significant water quality benefits including reduced nutrients and sediment loadings and adverse consequences associated with floods as well as expanded and enhanced wildlife habitat.
Currently, about 27 million acres are enrolled in the program nationwide, 1.5 million acres in Iowa. CRP is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers and landowners to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Producers enrolled in the program plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and enhance wildlife habitat.
Farmers with expiring CRP contracts need to look at their options with CRP
On September 30, 2013, contracts on an estimated 3.3 million acres of CRP nationwide are set to expire; 183,399 acres will expire in Iowa. Producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.
Producers who make offers to FSA to bid the producer's land into CRP, and if those acres are accepted in the sign-up, can receive cost-share assistance for planting covers on that land and receive an annual rental payment for the length of the contract. Producers also are encouraged to look into CRP's other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, non-competitive, sign-up basis, says Whitaker.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
The continuous sign-up often provides additional financial incentives. The sign-up dates for the continuous sign-up will be announced by USDA later on. For information on the Conservation Reserve Program and other FSA programs, visit your local FSA county office or the FSA website.
Conservation Reserve Program general signup is May 20 To June 14, 2013
Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials appreciate the program. "You can't have wildlife without the right habitat. And the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, is one way to add habitat to your cropland, while protecting soil and water quality," says Iowa DNR director Chuck Gipp. He encourages landowners who are interested in signing up to find out more about the benefits and details of CRP, including how to maximize your points and make your bid competitive.
Now is the time to consider those spots on your farm that might benefit from CRP. The DNR has biologists and foresters who can help you explore your eligibility, options, seeding mixes and maintenance requirements. They are familiar with funding opportunities and the federal programs. They are available as a sounding board to help you find the best solution for your operation and concerns. Contact the nearest DNR wildlife biologist or forester.
Offering cropland in a state or national priority area automatically increases the competitiveness of your CRP bid offer. In Iowa, some priority areas require specific types of plantings to receive extra points on your bid. Other priority areas have no restrictions. Some areas are not eligible for priority points, but may still be competitive for entering into CRP based on erodibility or if the land was previously in the program. Talk to a DNR biologist or forester for more information about conservation practices that help get your bid accepted.