Foster Swift Agricultural Law Update
General sign-up 41 for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) began on March 14, 2011 and will end on April 15, 2011. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to maintain CRP enrollment up to 32 million acres. On March 8, 2011, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the sign-up. "For 25 years, CRP has generated significant environmental improvements," said Vilsack. "Sound conservation practices encouraged through CRP enrollment preserve the soil, clean our water and restore habitat for wildlife. I encourage all interested farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn more about this opportunity," said Vilsack.
Land that is not currently enrolled in CRP may be offered for enrollment during sign-up 41. CRP participants with contracts expiring on September 30, 2011 may also submit offers. Producers at any time can participate in CRP continuous sign-up, in which producers can enroll the most environmentally sensitive land.
For a producer to be eligible for enrollment, the producer must have owned or operated the land for at least 12 months prior to the end of the CRP sign-up period, unless the new owner acquired the land due to the previous owner’s death, ownership changed due to foreclosure and redemption, or circumstances of the acquisition provide adequate assurance to FSA that the new owner did not acquire the land for the purpose of placing it in CRP. For land to be eligible, it must have been planted to an agriculture commodity four of the six years from 2002 to 2007 and be physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner. The land must also be either a weighted erosion index of 8 or higher, expiring CRP acreage, or located in a national or state CRP conservation priority area. FSA provides rental rates to participants.