BLOOMFIELD — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began Conservation Reserve Program General Signup #54 Dec. 9 and will continue to accept offers until Feb. 28, while sign-up for continuous CRP is ongoing.
Pheasants Forever, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the USDA, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust will be hosting landowner informational meetings across Nebraska to explain how producers can give their CRP offer the best chance of acceptance possible. A meeting to target Cedar and Knox county landowners will be held at the Crofton City Auditorium Jan. 9, at 2 p.m.
CRP Sign-up #54 will be the first General Signup under the current Farm Bill. CRP has 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill lifted the cap to 27 million acres. This means farmers and ranchers have a chance to enroll in CRP for the first time or continue their participation for another term. If accepted into the program, producers can lock in an annual rental payment for ten to fifteen years. Annual payments are based on dryland productivity for the three predominant soils in the field and therefore can vary widely.
By enrolling in CRP, producers are providing a stable income on marginal acres, improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and restoring habitat for wildlife. Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U. S. The program was originally intended to control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. This Farm Bill program has evolved over the years, providing a variety of conservation and economic benefits from coast to coast. This in turns spurs hunting, fishing, recreation, tourism, and other economic development across rural America.
Acres are accepted for the general CRP program based on a national ranking system called the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). Among other things, the EBI considers the erodibility of the land, water and air quality, and wildlife benefits to decide which offers across the US will be accepted into the program. “Nationally, we have less acres to work with and more people wanting in,” said Kelsi Wehrman, Nebraska’s PF State Coordinator. “That’s why it will be so important for those who want in to submit the best offer possible. These meetings will show them how to do that. We’ll also be able to tell people whether the ground they want to enroll may fit with any of special initiatives which have remaining acres.”
Other topics to be covered will include eligibility, program rules, cover management requirements, and additional but optional payments from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for allowing public hunting access.
There is no charge for participating, but it is requested that participants pre-register by visiting www.NebraskaPF.com or calling 308-850-8395 to register. For a complete listing which includes location and times, please visit www.NebraskaPF.com or contact your local USDA service center.