Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment Resumes, Offers Payment for Wildlife Habitat
NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has been informed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently resumed opportunities to enroll new land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and to re-enroll existing CRP contracts that are scheduled to expire in 2013.
Enrollment had ceased when Congress failed to pass new “Farm Bill” legislation to replace the previous 5-year law that expired on Sept. 30, 2012.
A CRP General Signup will be held nationwide from May 20-June 14, 2013. Producers can offer new land for enrollment that had been cropped at least four of the six years between 2002-07 or offer to re-enroll existing contracts that will expire this year.
In a general signup, CRP offers compete nationwide after they are scored and ranked according to various environmental, soil and cost factors. Offer acceptance has been very high in the last several signups, but it is expected that competition for acceptance will be much greater. Draft Farm Bill legislation currently before Congress would reduce the national cap on CRP acres from 32 to 25 million acres.
While producers cannot influence many factors their offer is scored on, choosing vegetation that provides the best wildlife habitat can greatly increase their score and thus their chance for acceptance. CP2 Native Grasses, CP3A Hardwood Tree Planting, and CP4D Permanent Wildlife Habitat are good wildlife options. Offers on expiring CRP contracts can realize increased scores by offering to upgrade at least 51 percent of existing low-scoring vegetation to higher scoring wildlife plantings. Converting a portion of existing cover to pollinator habitat or wildlife food plots can also add points.
In addition to the general signup, enrollment for new offers for CRP Continuous Signup practices resumed May 13. Having high environmental value, offers for these practices are accepted automatically and without competition if the landowner/producer and the land meet CRP eligibility criteria. Continuous CRP practice options include: CP8A Grassed Waterways, CP9 Shallow Water Areas, CP21 Filter Strips, CP22 Riparian Buffers, CP23/23A Wetland Restoration, CP25 Rare and Declining Habitat, CP31 Bottomland Timber Establishment on Wetlands, CP33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds, CP38E Bobwhite Habitat Restoration, and CP42 Pollinator Habitat. Several of these options provide a great opportunity to get a guaranteed payment on field borders and other areas of low crop yield.
Marginal pastureland adjacent to streams, sinkholes or wetland areas may also qualify for the CP29 Marginal Pastureland Wildlife Habitat Buffers or the CP30 Marginal Pastureland Wetlands Buffer practices. No cropping history is required on marginal pastureland.
To find out if land is eligible for CRP and for more information on the various CRP practices, contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. If you are interested in providing the best wildlife habitat in CRP, you can also call your local TWRA or Natural Resources Conservation Service private lands biologist, whose contact information can be found at www.TWRAprivatelands.org under “Who To Contact For Technical Assistance.”