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Farmers with expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts may now re-enroll in certain CRP continuous signup practices or, if eligible, select a one-year contract extension. USDA’s Farm Service Agency also is accepting offers from those who want to enroll for the first time in one of the country’s largest conservation programs. This signup, which is the program’s 52nd one, runs from June 3 until Aug. 23, 2019.

FSA stopped accepting contract offers for continuous CRP last fall when the 2014 Farm Bill authority expired. The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized the program last December and the various agencies involved with its implementation have authorized a limited signup that prioritizes water quality practices. There are 17 different practices available and some of the most common are grassed waterways, contour grass strips, filter strips, bioreactors, shallow water wildlife areas, saturated riparian buffer, and wetland restoration.

Continuous signup enrollment contracts last for 10 to 15 years, with the soil rental rates set at 90% of the 2018 rates with no additional incentive payments. In Cerro Gordo County, there are three soil rental rates based on the three primary soil types in the contract area. For 2019 continuous signup acres the annual rental rates are $107, $160, and $213 per acre. Cost share to establish the practice is a maximum of 50%. In addition, mid-contract management practices are still required on these contracts but there is no cost share.

For producers with expiring CRP contracts, letters were sent that describe possible options. A one-year extension is being offered to existing CRP participants with expiring contracts of 14 years or less that have practices not eligible for re-enrollment under this signup. USDA wants farmers with expiring contracts who have set aside land for more than a decade to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, provide wildlife habitat, and improve soil health to know that they will have opportunities within CRP to continue their valuable contribution to our country’s conservation successes.

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FSA is still planning a CRP general signup in December 2019, with a grasslands signup to follow. Producers that extend their contracts may be eligible for one of these signups or another continuous signup in the future. For the general signup, rental rates for Cerro Gordo County are set at 85% of the 2018 rates which makes the three rates, based of soil type, $102, $152, and $202. Again, there will be no incentive payments and cost share is set at 50%.

The Conservation Reserve Program,which began in 1985, is the largest private-lands conservation program in the United States. Voluntary participation by farmers and landowners has improved water quality, reduced soil erosion, and increased wildlife habitat. For more information on a national level go to www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

If you have land that might be eligible for one of these programs, contact the Cerro Gordo Soil and Water Conservation District at 641-424-4452.

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Dennis Carney is a Cerro Gordo Soil and Water District commissioner. The local office can be found at 1415 S. Monroe, Mason City. Online: cerrogordoswcd.org.

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