What's Up at the FSA Office?

by Jeremy Leitz, Allamakee County Executive Director (563) 568-2148

Upcoming Deadlines/Dates
December 25: Closed for Christmas Holiday

USDA Opens Signup for CRP General Signup
The U.S. Department of Agriculture opened signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on December 9, 2019. The deadline for agricultural producers to sign up for general CRP is February 28, 2020.

Land that is not currently enrolled in CRP may be offered for enrollment during the 54th CRP general enrollment period. In addition, CRP producers whose CRP contracts expired on Sept.30, 2017, Sept.30, 2018, Sept.30, 2019 or are expiring on Sept. 30, 2020, including acres expiring from certain State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) practices and the Highly Erodible Lands Initiative (HELI) contracts may submit offers. To submit CRP offers, producers must visit their local FSA office. FSA will accept offers only during the enrollment period.

To be eligible for the CRP general enrollment period, land must be cropland (including field margins) that is planted, or considered planted, to an agricultural commodity four of the six crop years from 2012 to 2017, and be physically and legally capable of being planted (no planting restrictions due to an easement or other legally binding instrument) in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity. Alfalfa or other multiyear grasses and legumes grown in a rotation not to exceed 12 years may also be eligible.

In addition to the eligible land requirements for the CRP general enrollment period, cropland must meet one of the following criteria:

• Have a weighted average erosion index of eight or higher;
• Be expiring CRP acres or;
• Be in a national or state CRP conservation priority area.

FSA will rank offers for the CRP general enrollment period according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). FSA collects data (primarily based on location, soils information and selected conservation practice) and determines the environmental indices for the land offered. FSA ranks each eligible offer in comparison to all other offers and selects from that ranking. After the enrollment period ends, the Secretary of Agriculture will decide where to make the EBI cutoff. Those who have met previous EBI thresholds are not guaranteed a contract under this enrollment period.

USDA Opens Signup for CRP Continuous Signup
In addition to the general signup, USDA is accepting offers for specific conservation practices under the CRP Continuous Signup. CRP participants establish long-term, resource-conserving vegetative species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), to control soil erosion, improve the water quality and enhance wildlife habitat. In return, FSA provides participants with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance. Continuous signup enrollment contracts are 10 to 15 years in duration.

Under continuous CRP signup, environmentally sensitive land devoted to certain conservation practices can be enrolled in CRP at any time. Offers are automatically accepted provided the land and producer meet certain eligibility requirements and the enrollment levels do not exceed the statutory cap. Unlike CRP enrollments under general CRP signups or CRP Grasslands, offers for continuous enrollment are not subject to competitive bidding during specific periods.

If the offered acres are currently enrolled in CRP under a CRP contract that expires September 30, then the effective start date of the new CRP contract must be the following October 1.  If the offered acres are not currently enrolled in CRP, then the producer may choose to defer the effective start date of the new CRP contract for up to six months after the offer is approved.

Land must be cropland that is planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity four of the six crop years from 2012 to 2017 and is physically and legally capable of being planted (no planting restrictions due to an easement or other legally binding instrument) in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity. Certain marginal pastureland that may be devoted to riparian buffers, wildlife habitat buffers, or wetland buffers is also eligible. Eligible practices include grass waterways, contour grass strips, filter strips, riparian buffers, pollinator habitat, and prairie strips. 

Contact your local FSA office with any questions or discuss enrollment options.

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