Conservation Reserve Program is alternative to flooded cropland

Posted June 13, 2013 at 9:17 am

By Jeff Potts

Pheasants Forever Biologist

Flooding has occurred again this year along many creeks and rivers in Jones County, and with the deluge of rain that has hit this spring we are seeing some cropland acres under water and other acres incurring heavy erosion or siltation.

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) can provide an alternative to the expense of replanting, loss of crop and decreased yields. Dr. Michael Swanson, Agriculture Economist with Wells Fargo Bank, states that on all farms on average 20 percent of the farm loses money, 20 percent breaks even and 60 percent turns a profit. To optimize your net income, farm your best land and place the riskier/smaller, hard to farm acres into CRP.

Fortunately, there is a silver lining! USDA is again accepting applications for all CRP. The general CRP signup 45 is currently underway and will conclude on June 14. CRP rental payments have been updated and have risen significantly to be more attractive to potential participants. If you miss the deadline for the general CRP signup, some practices are eligible for the continuous CRP signup, which has no deadline and rental rates ranging from $140-$305/acre are now possible with certain CRP practices. Continuous CRP practices such as filter strips and buffers, grassed waterways and wetland restoration have an additional annual rental rate incentive of 20 percent for some of the bottom land, wetter and concentrated flow area soils. Those CRP practices would calculate to a potential $168-$366/acre rental rate. Also, some CRP practices are also eligible for a one-time $100/acre or $150/acre signup incentive payment. There is also a 50 percent cost share for eligible costs associated with initially establishing their new CRP with an additional 40 percent Practice Incentive Payment on some practices when installed.

This return of wetter weather has been bittersweet to local farmers who are both worried about restoring subsoil moisture and now trying to get all of their crops planted. Low areas and river bottoms that have been dry the last couple of years due to the drought are once again temporarily ponded with water. Fortunately with the return of CRP, landowners and farmers in this situation have another option through filter strips, wetland restoration, and other CRP practices to deal with those risky and sensitive acres to farm. Additionally, the heavy rains also caused many gullies which can potentially be repaired and seeded down with the grass waterway CRP practice.

Qualifying lands will be enrolled in CRP for a contract length of 10 or 15 years and landowners will receive an annual rental payment. Many of the seedings that can be cost-shared through this program directly benefit the ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite quail, and many other species that rely on the food and cover that grasses and wildflowers provide.

To check if your land is eligible or learn about which CRP practices would meet your needs, contact Jeff Potts, Farm Bill biologist with Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever at (319-899-2631 or e-mail Jeff at jpotts@pheasantsforever.org or contact your USDA Service Center at 300 Chamber Dr., Anamosa, Iowa 52205 or call 319-462-3196, ext. 3.

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