Thursday, March 19, 2020

Grasslands conservation program applications open; farmers and ranchers get paid for protecting grazing lands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program opened applications for its Grasslands initiative this week. Through CRP Grasslands, farmers and ranchers will receive an annual rental payment and up to 50 percent cost-share for establishing approved conservation practices on their grasslands, rangelands and pastures, while still using the land for agricultural purposes, according to a USDA press release.

Participants still retain the right to conduct common grazing practices like haying, mowing or harvesting seed, though the timing some activities may be restricted by things like the primary nesting season of birds. CRP contracts are for either 10 or 15 years.

The USDA's Farm Service Agency will administer the program, one of the largest conservation programs at USDA. This year marks its 35th anniversary, with more than 22 million acres currently enrolled. The 2018 Farm Bill authorized 2 million new acres for the program. Applications are due by May 15. Contact your local Farm Service Agency to apply for the program or for more information.

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