The U.S. Department of Agriculture has nearly $1 million available for Iowa landowners who sign up for the Grassland Reserve Program by March 19.
The Grassland Reserve Program is a voluntary program that helps landowners and operators protect working grasslands, including hay land, pastureland, native grasslands and certain other lands using rental contracts or conservation easements.
To participate in the GRP, landowners must have a grazing management plan. Landowners who have their GRP applications accepted can enroll their land into a permanent easement, or they can receive annual, per-acre payments in exchange for their agreement to keep the land as grassland for 10, 15 or 20 years.
Applications are ranked by NRCS, and priorities are given
In Iowa, GRP applications are ranked by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. Priority will be given to grazing lands likely to be converted to other uses, such as expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts or land under pressure for urban development. Applicants interested in a permanent easement or a 20-year agreement will also be given priority.
Applications for the program will be accepted on a continuous basis. When funding has been exhausted, applications will remain on file until additional funding becomes available. Only applications received through March 19 will be included in the ranking process to award the current allotment of funds.
Landowners who have their GRP applications accepted may continue to graze the land or harvest hay and seed from the land, with these exceptions: haying, seed harvest or grazing activities are not permitted on 20% of the contract acres during the nesting season of June 1 to July 15 on warm and cool season grasses to promote use by wildlife.
To apply for the GRP, contact your local USDA Service Center. You can find the office nearest you by looking in the phonebook under "U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture," or access this Web site: offices.usda.gov. Additional information about this and other programs is also available at this Web site www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/grasslandreserve.html.