CRP-Grasslands enrollment period now open

Written by Theresa Rose on October 1, 2015

AMES, IOWA – Farmers in Iowa who agree to use sustainable grazing practices may be eligible to participate in the updated Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)-Grasslands Program.

The CRP-Grasslands program was created by Congress through the 2014 Farm Bill. The program is administered by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and emphasizes support for grazing lands. Basic provisions for the CRP-Grasslands program along with changes to the general CRP program were announced in a July 2015 edition of the Federal Register.

“The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is very excited about this new federal program opportunity for Iowa cattlemen and women. ICA has been lobbying Congress and the federal FSA office for sometime to create a working lands program that rewards cattle producers for maintaining pasture acres. We strongly feel that cattle on grass is one of the best conservation tools for soil and water quality as well as wildlife biodiversity,” says Matt Deppe, ICA director.

To participate, farmers and ranchers must agree to employ long-term conservation practices on their grasslands, such as rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife. Up to 50 percent of the cost for employing conservation “covers” can be paid by federal cost share.

Participants voluntarily limit future use of the land while retaining the right to conduct common grazing practices, produce hay, mow, or harvest for seed production (subject to certain restrictions during the nesting season of bird species that are in significant decline or those that are protected under federal or state law), conduct fire rehabilitation, and construct firebreaks and fences.

In return for following an approved CRP conservation plan, FSA provide will provide an annual rental payment to participants at 75 percent of the grazing value of the land. CRP-Grasslands contracts will be 15 years in length.

Interested participants may visit the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association website (www.iacattlemen.org) for more info. The first application period is open until Nov. 20 and farmers may file applications with FSA at any time.