Farmers, ranchers and landowners in Indiana may now sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program, USDA said last week.
Additionally, USDA said retiring farmers enrolled in CRP could receive incentives to transfer a portion of their land to beginning, disadvantaged or military veteran farmers through the Transition Incentives Program.
"CRP is one of the largest voluntary conservation programs in the country," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press statement. "This initiative helps farmers and ranchers lead the nation in preventing soil erosion, improving water quality and restoring wildlife habitat, all of which will make a difference for future generations."
CRP consists of a continuous and general sign-up period. Continuous sign-up for the voluntary programs started June 9. Under continuous sign-up authority, eligible land can be enrolled in CRP at any time with contracts of up to 10 to 15 years in duration.
Many waterways, filter strips and other practices have been installed in Indiana through continuous CRP, says Jane Hardisty, NRCS state conservationist. Farmers accepted in the program typically receive cost-share to install the practice and a rental rate for the land involved.
In lieu of a general sign-up this year, USDA will allow producers with general CRP contracts expiring this September to have the option of a one-year contract extension. USDA will also implement the 2014 Farm Bill's requirement that producers enrolled through general sign-up for more than five years can exercise the option to opt-out of the program if certain other conditions are met.
June 9 was also the beginning sign-ups for the land transfer program. This program provides two additional years of payments for retired farmers and ranchers who transition expiring CRP acres to socially disadvantaged, military veteran, or beginning farmers who return the land to sustainable grazing or crop production.
"The average age of farmers and ranchers in the United States is 58 years, and twice as many are 65 or older compared to those 45 or younger," Vilsack commented. "The cost of buying land is one of the biggest barriers to many interested in getting started in agriculture. The Transition Incentives Program is very useful as we work to help new farmers and ranchers get started."
Inquire at your local NRCS office in Indiana to learn more about these programs.