FAQ: USDA recently announced that retiring owners and operators with expiring CRP contracts can transition the land to help beginning farmers get started farming. Can you please tell me more about this?
Answer: Provided by Vickie Friedow, state conservation and compliance program specialist for USDA's Farm Service Agency office in Des Moines.
USDA on May 14, 2010 issued interim rules for the Conservation Reserve Program's new option, known as the Transition Incentives Program or TIP. The TIP program is now up and running so qualified landowners and farmers can participate.
The TIP program encourages retired and retiring farmers to transition their land to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers. TIP was established in the Conservation title of the 2008 Farm Bill.
Retiring owners and operators with expiring CRP contracts can transition the land to help beginning farmers or socially disadvantaged farmers get started.
- Retiring or retired is defined as an owner or operator of land enrolled in a CRP contract who has ended active labor in farming operations as a producer of agricultural crops or expects to do so within 5 years of the CRP contract modification.
- Beginning farmer is a person or entity who has not been a farm operator for more than 10 years; materially and substantially participates in the operation of the farm involved in the CRP contract modification, and if it is an entity is one in which 50% of the members or stockholders of the entity meet these first two criteria.
- Socially disadvantaged or SDA farmer is a member of a SDA group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. Gender is not included.
Ensuring that our nation's land is returned to production using sustainable methods is critical not only for our future food supply, but also for the economic future of rural communities. Access to land is one of the greatest challenges faced by new farmers.
TIP sign-up began May 17 at county FSA offices. FSA has a two-page fact sheet explaining the program. TIP is very important, as the average age of U.S. farmers is 57 and the next generation of farmers needs to be found.
Under TIP the land that's transitioned must be returned to production using sustainable grazing or crop production methods. The land can also be enrolled in continuous CRP, the Conservation Stewardship Program or the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, provided all eligibility requirements are met.
How does TIP work? Who can participate in TIP?
As an incentive to participate in the program, the retired or retiring landowner will be eligible to receive up to two additional annual CRP rental payments after the contract expires. That is, provided the owner transfers the land to a non-family member who is a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer.
The landowner must agree to sell, have a contract to sell or agree to a long-term lease (minimum of 5 years) on the land under CRP contract by October 1 of the year the CRP contract expires.
This is a major step forward in USDA's effort to help, particularly those new farmers who want to start or expand their operation in a sustainable way. This program is about supporting local economies, providing opportunities for new farmers and paving the way to rebuild and revitalize rural America.
Land returned to production must use sustainable methods
USDA allows TIP to be used retroactively for ground that came out of CRP after passage of the last Farm Bill on June 18, 2008--provided the land is enrolled in the new TIP program by September 30, 2010.
Unfortunately, FSA failed to get the CRP transition option in place to be used during 2008-2009. But the new rule released in May 2010 offers an opportunity for people who wanted to use the program last year but could not to do so until now. Another 15 million acres of CRP ground in the U.S. has contracts expiring between 2010 and 2012, so the TIP program can be very useful.
If you are interested in signing up for TIP or learning more about the program, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office.
If you have specific questions or need details regarding USDA farm programs, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office. You can also get news and information about DCP, ACRE and other USDA programs at www.fsa.usda.gov.
Two Iowa State University Extension Web sites have farm program information and analysis. They are ISU's Ag Decision Maker site at www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm and ISU Extension Specialist Steve Johnson's site at www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/farmmanagement.htm.
And be sure to read the regular column "Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm Program" that appears in each issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine and at www.WallacesFarmer.com