Q&A on Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)
Questions And Answers
1. How do we handle applications that involve multiple tracts? In some cases it would take the land on both or multiple tracts that are contiguous to have the required 40 acres to qualify?
Answer: There is no restriction to the number of tracts or different farm numbers that can be taken under one application.
2. Would any type and number of livestock qualify the land for grazing?
Answer: Any type of domesticated farm animal that would depend on the forage as a major source of their food such as cattle, horses, sheep, goats, etc.
3. What would be the penalty for someone that wanted to get out of a contract after it was approved and signed?
Answer: Liquidated damages do not apply. The contract indicates that upon termination, Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) may require the participant to refund in whole or in part, together with interest, annual rental payments and any applicable cost-share payments; and reimburse CCC the cost and expenses associated with contract implementation, enforcement, and termination of the agreement.
4. Is land with an existing EQIP, CRP, or WHIP contract being offered eligible for GRP?
Answer: No. If a person is contractually required to maintain grassland through another USDA conservation program, the land is not eligible for GRP until the contractual obligation cease to exist. If someone had 528A Prescribed Grazing as a part of the Conservation Plan in EQIP contract, the land would be ineligible.
5. Is restoration of grasslands eligible for assistance in 2005 GRP?
Answer: Restoration of warm season native grass is allowed in FY 2005. Funds in the amount of $50,000 have been set aside for cost-sharing at 75 percent per acre rate on warm season native grass establishment. If these funds are not used for cost-share then they will be used to fund other GRP applications.
6. Are the rental rates listed for each county the actual participants will receive?
Answer: The rental payment amounts provided to you from FSA Notice GRP-1 represents 75 percent of the grazing value. Therefore, the amount provided is the amount to use for the rental agreement without making any adjustments.
7. Are non-profit organizations eligible for GRP?
Answer: Non-profit organizations are eligible to offer land for GRP providing the land is considered privately owned.
8. Would lands owned by state or subdivision of state be eligible for GRP?
Answer: The GRP statute provides that land shall be eligible to be enrolled in the program if the Secretary determines that the land is private and certain other requirements are met. Lands owned by the State or a subdivision of the State are not considered privately owned lands.
9. How will my bases or DCP (Direct and Counter-cyclincal Payments) be affected if I enter into a GRP contract?
Answer: If you are receiving payments on acres that are being applied for, under GRP you will have to give up DCP payment. You will not receive both. It is best to specifically ask local FSA to verify bases and DCP acres. Be sure to tell applicants as soon as they apply, as it may change their decision to apply.
10. Can a GRP contract holder apply for an easement on the same parcel of land?
Answer: Not in FY 2005. Otherwise, persons who already participate in a rental agreement may offer land for an easement, providing the duration of the easement exceeds the duration of the rental agreement, the application ranks high enough to be funded, all other eligibility criteria are met and funds are available to acquire an easement.
11. Will applications be entered into Protracts in 2005?
Answer: Yes. The web-based GRP ranking tool will be used also. It will be important to enter all the requested information into the application.
12. What criteria are used to determine funding levels for state?
Answer: Next year, funding will be determined based on number of unfunded applications, the estimated amount of funding needed, and the acres offered for FY2005.
13. What happens when a GRP contract or easement is sold?
Answer: If lands enrolled under GRP rental agreements are sold or transferred, the rental agreement may be transferred to the new landowner or controlling operator as long as they meet participant eligibility requirements (i.e. Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and conservation compliance), and assume full responsibility for carrying out the conditions of the conservation plan and contract. If the new owners do not wish to assume the contract, USDA-FSA may require the original participant to refund all or a portion of any financial assistance received. Under rental agreements FSA has the responsibility of determining and collecting such penalties. Also, since this property exceeded 40 acres when it was originally enrolled, the STC does not have to waiver the smaller acreage. This waiver also applies to easements, since the deed clearly states ownership of these lands may be subdivided provided that all conditions of the easement are adhered to by the subsequent landowner.
Step 1. Original and new landowner need to complete FSA forms agreeing to assignment.
Step 2. New to landowner needs to have FSA determine landowner eligibility.
Step 3. NRCS and landowner revise conservation plan.
Step 4. Landowner and FSA sign modified contract.
14. Can EQIP funds be used on GRP easements or contracts?
Answer: It depends. Lands already enrolled in GRP are eligible to receive EQIP cost-share as long as the practice(s) being approved is not or has not already been approved for cost-share through GRP. (440 Cons. Program. Manual. 515.62, Eligibility of Land, (f).
There are always exceptions. If GRP ranking points are given or were given for a category that requires maintenance of the grass or an enhancement of the grass, then the practice is not eligible for cost-share funds from other USDA conservation programs.
Example: GRP applicant receives points for increasing the grazing intensity, then, if new fences were required to do this, the fencing would not be eligible for cost-share assistance.
Another example: Under the Grazing Concern, if the GRP applicant receives points indicating there are not invasive plant populations that will threaten the success of the GRP, but there are some present and the applicant has agreed to treat them, then cost-share assistance is not eligible through other USDA conservation programs. If the applicant does not get the ranking points, then cost-share assistance is eligible through other USDA conservation programs to treat the invasive plants.
15. Can WHIP funds be used on GRP easements or contracts?
Answer: It depends. WHIP funds can only be used on GRP rental agreements but not on easements (this may change in the future). Again, cost-share funds from two different USDA conservation programs may not be used for the same practice. If the applicant receives a benefit through the GRP ranking points that requires enhancement or maintenance of the grasses, then the related practice is not eligible through other USDA conservation programs.
Example: A GRP applicant has agreed to plant native warm season grasses as part of his ranking criteria. GRP funds may be used to cost-share the grass planting, but WHIP funds may not be used because: 1) there is a requirement to manage the grasses under GRP and, 2) the GRP application received favorable consideration because native warm season grasses were going to be planted.