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USDA Offers CRP Grasslands Practice Aimed at Small Livestock Operations
In an effort to incorporate working lands into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently established a new CRP Grasslands Practice aimed at small-scale livestock grazing operations, according to the Wildlife Management Institute. To qualify, operators with 100 or fewer head of grazing dairy cattle (or the equivalent) can enroll up to 200 acres of grassland per farm.
?CRP Grasslands recognizes the conservation value of well-managed, working grazing lands and pasture lands,? said USDA Deputy Under Secretary, Alexis Taylor. ?Small livestock operators are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency Office to learn more about this program.?
Participants in the CRP Grasslands program must establish or maintain long-term, resource conserving grasses or other plant species to control erosion, improve water quality, and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. Program participants can use the land for haying or grazing while following a conservation plan in order to maintain cover. A goal of the program is to minimize the conversion of grasslands to row crops or non-agricultural uses. Participants can receive up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land and up to 50 percent of the cost to establish cover or acquire materials to facilitate management, like fencing to support rotational grazing.
USDA will select offers for enrollment based on six ranking factors: (1) current and future use, (2) new farmer/rancher or underserved producer involvement, (3) maximum grassland preservation, (4) vegetative cover, (5) environmental factors, and (6) pollinator habitat.
?CRP Grasslands recognizes the conservation value of well-managed, working grazing lands and pasture lands.? - USDA Deputy Under Secretary, Alexis Taylor.
Just over 101,000 acres were enrolled in the grasslands program last May; USDA?s goal is to enroll a total of 200,000 acres in the program. During the first round of consideration for the grassland program, USDA received nearly 5,000 offers covering over a million acres with a substantial portion of the offer coming from predominately larger ranch operations in Western states. The new practice is expected to provide more opportunities for smaller operations to be competitive for CRP funding.
Small-scale livestock operations should submit offers by December 16. Along with new offers, producers who submitted offers for the first ranking period but were not accepted will be considered for the second ranking period. Offers accepted during the current fiscal year will be enrolled in the program beginning October 1, 2017.