January 31, 2002

Continuous CRP Program Offers Landowners Better Return For Conservation Practices

Imagine a program that pays a landowner for taking marginal cropland out of production, which does not require the producer to compete for acceptance into the project, and has no specific sign-up deadlines. That is exactly what the Continuous CRP program has to offer.

Unlike the typical Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Continuous CRP is not limited and does not require landowners to compete to get land into the agreement. If the land is eligible, it can be entered.

Another bonus compared to CRP is that the Continuous program, which runs on either 10 or 15-year contracts, has no specific sign up date. A landowner may apply today or any day before September 30 as part of the local Conservation Buffer Partnership. The Northeast Missouri Chapter of Pheasants Forever has teamed up with the Knox and Scotland County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Missouri Department of Conservation - Open Lands Initiative Project, the USDA-Farm Service Agency and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service to increase local participation in the Continuous CRP program.

While the two previously mentioned benefits likely are interesting to landowners, most ears will not perk up until they hear of the added dollar value on payments for this CRP ground.

These increased revenues are associated with one-time incentive payments of from $100 to $150 per acre (determined by the contract length). In addition some ground can qualify for a one-time payment equal to 90 percent of the cost of installing the necessary conservation practices on the grounds. Top that off with a $5 to $10 per acre payment to help defray the cost of maintaining the conservation practices and it is easy to see the added revenue.

Ground that qualifies for the Continuous CRP program includes cropland (which has been planted with crops two of the past five years) that includes: concentrated flow areas causing small gullies and ditches; areas adjacent to streams, lakes, ponds or wetlands; areas that would benefit from contour strips; existing functional terraces; or areas capable of holding shallow water for the majority of the year. Pasture ground that is adjacent to streams, lakes or ponds is also eligible.

Eligible practices for the program include filter strips, riparian buffers, field windbreaks, grassed waterways, contour grass strips, and shallow water areas for wildlife.

The goal of the Continuous CRP program is the protection of water quality, which benefits the entire community as well as the landowner. The program also is expected to make the adjoining ground easier to farm and more productive while giving the landowner a source of revenue that should exceed any possible income from farming the ground enrolled into the project.

Since the program began in 1996 more than 30,500 acres have been enrolled in the Continuous CRP program in Missouri with the bulk of that coming in the form of filter strips and riparian buffers.

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