The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was recently expanded to include Grasslands. It’s an effort to help landowners and operators protect grassland, including rangeland and pastureland while while still using them for grazing. Participants receive annual payments of not more than 75% of the value of the land and cost-share assistance for contracts lasting between 14 and 15 years. This year’s deadline to apply for inclusion in the program is December 16, 2106 so if you’re interested, you’ll want to head over to your local Farm Service Agency to get help with the paperwork.
Small Livestock Operations Welcome
Small livestock operations with 100 or fewer grazing dairy cows or equivalent can submit applications to enroll up to 200 acres per operation. To figure out what that means for you, check out the table below showing Animal Unit Equivalents:
The CRP Grasslands program emphasizes support for grazing operations, plant and animal biodiversity and grassland and land containing shrubs and forbs under the greatest threat of conversion. Participation in the program can also make you eligible for 50% cost-share assistance when you establish approved practices that address these issues. To be eligible land must be currently planted to grass cover and you must have owned or operated it for at least 12 months prior to the application deadline (though there are exceptions in cases of inheritance and foreclosure).
Clifford Hawbaker operates a 200 head dairy in Pennsylvania and has enrolled some of his land in this program. He says, “I think this practice (is) a good option and choice for farmers. It helps the environment and it’s really given me a different appreciation for grass.”
Your Farm Service Agent is happy to talk with you to see if this is a good option for your operation.