USDA Offers Flexibility When Terminating CRP Program Contracts

The USDA has announced that it will allow Conservation Reserve Program Participants (CRP) who are in the final year of their CRP contract to request voluntary termination of their CRP contract after the end of the primary nesting season for the fiscal year 2022.

Participants approved for this one-time voluntary termination will not have to repay rent, a flexibility implemented this year to help alleviate global food supply challenges caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other factors.

The USDA also announced additional flexibilities for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

“We are experiencing a disruption in an integrated global supply chain caused by the war in Ukraine, cutting off a critical source of wheat, corn, barley, oilseeds and cooking oil, and we have heard many growers who want to better understand their options to help meet global food needs,” said Gene Schriefer, State Executive Director of the USDA Wisconsin Agricultural Services Agency. “This announcement will help growers make informed decisions about land use and conservation options.”

The FSA is sending letters to growers whose acres are expiring that detail this flexibility and share other options, such as re-enrolling sensitive acres into the CRP’s continued enrollment and the ability to grow organic crops. Growers will be asked to request voluntary termination in writing through their local USDA service center.

If voluntary termination is approved, preparations can take place after the end of the primary nesting season. Producers will then be able to mow, graze, begin land preparation activities and plant a fall seeded crop before October 1, 2022. For land in colder climates, this flexibility may allow for better establishment of a cultivation of winter wheat or better land preparation. for spring sowing.

Organic Considerations

Since CRP land typically does not have a recent history of pesticide or herbicide application, the USDA encourages growers to consider organic production. USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to help growers plan and implement conservation practices, including those that work well for organic operations, such as pest control and mulching. Meanwhile, the FSA offers cost sharing for certification costs and other fees.

Other CRP options

Participants can also choose to enroll some or all of their expiring acres into CRP Continuing Enrollment for 2022. Significant conservation benefits can still be achieved by re-enrolling sensitive acres such as buffers or wetlands. . Expiring water quality practices such as filter strips, grassy waterways, and riparian buffers may be eligible for re-listing under the Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers (CLEAR) and CLEAR 30 options in under the CRP. Additionally, expiring continuous CRP practices such as shelterbelts, field shelterbelts, and other buffer practices can also be re-listed to provide benefits to organic farms.

If producers do not plan to farm the land on their expiring CRP contract, the Transition Incentive Program (TIP) can also provide them with two additional annual lease payments after their contract expires provided they sell or rent their land to a beginner or veteran. farmer or rancher or member of a socially disadvantaged group.

Producers interested in registering for Continuous CRP, CLEAR 30 or TIP should contact the FSA by August 5, 2022.

NRCS Conservation Programs

The USDA also encourages growers to consider NRCS conservation programs, which help growers integrate conservation into croplands, pastures, and other agricultural landscapes. EQIP and CSP can help growers plant cover crops, manage nutrients, and improve irrigation and grazing systems. Additionally, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), or state or private easement programs, may be such an option. In many cases, a combination of approaches can be adopted on the same plot. For example, riparian areas or other sensitive parts of a parcel may be enrolled in ongoing CRP and the remaining land that is turned over to agriculture may participate in CSP or EQIP and may be eligible to receive points. additional classification.

Other flexibilities to support conservation

Additionally, the NRCS also provides new flexibility for EQIP and CSP participants who have cover crops, including in their existing contracts. The NRCS will allow participants to change their plans to plant a cover crop (and switch to a conservation crop rotation instead) or delay their cover crop plans for a year, without having to terminate. the existing contract. This will allow flexibility to respond to market signals while ensuring conservation benefits through NRCS financial and technical assistance for participating producers.

Growers and landowners can learn more about these options by contacting the FSA and NRCS at their local USDA Service Center.

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