DES MOINES, IA—The upcoming Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general signup offers producers and landowners an alternative to farming environmentally sensitive land. Starting on May 20, Farm Service Agency offices across the state will begin a four-week general CRP sign-up, continuing through June 14.
“At FSA, we are proud to offer this great opportunity to Iowa landowners to reduce soil erosion and protect water quality and improve habitat and attract wildlife,” said John R. Whitaker, state executive director of the Iowa FSA. “The benefits of CRP were highlighted after our state has recently experienced the worst flooding and drought seen in 60 years. CRP protected environmentally sensitive land from washing or blowing away.”
CRP contracts provide annual rental payments to landowners who in turn agree to use conservation practices that will reduce soil erosion, improve water and air quality, or provide winter cover and food for wildlife.
Updated rental rates may make CRP a more attractive alternative where costs are high and yields are low.
Whitaker added that staff at the USDA Service Centers, which includes, FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) , Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Pheasants Forever, can provide information on how to most effectively use CRP. By targeting specific soil types and subdividing fields, producers may be better able to control soil erosion while gaining some flexibility in tillage practices. These staff can help you find a CRP practice and planting mix that will increase the chances of your offer being accepted into CRP while achieving your goals for wildlife habitat and erosion control.
“CRP is an important tool to help landowners concerned about erosion sensitive areas in their fields,” said Jay Mar, state conservationist with the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“Crop producers who selectively use CRP on problem areas provide cleaner water and air for all Iowans. Planting grasses or trees provides habitat that is critical to reverse the decline of pheasants, songbirds and other wildlife,” said Chuck Gipp, director of the Iowa DNR.
“We all know that CRP grasslands are absolutely vital habitat for pheasants and other ground nesting upland birds,” said Matt O’Connor, director of conservation for Iowa Pheasants Forever. “Anyone can drive through rural Iowa today and see some of the last bits of habitat disappear. CRP habitat is more important than ever.”
This group of partners is also working together to schedule informational meetings across the state. Find meeting locations at www.fsa.usda.gov/ia. If you are unable to attend, consider a free webinar hosted by Women, Food, and Agriculture Network. This informational webinar is targeted to women farmers and farmland owners on May 23, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. CDT. Register at: https://womenfoodagnet.wufoo.com/forms/z7p7m5/.
Offers accepted into the CRP through the bidding process, will become effective Oct. 1, 2013. In Iowa, 183,399 acres of CRP will expire this fall.
For more information on signing up for the general Conservation Reserve Program, please contact your county FSA office or look at www.fsa.usda.gov. Success stories and more information are also available on the NRCS and DNR websites at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/ and www.iowadnr.gov/.