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Conservation Reserve Program Decisions

Conservation Reserve Program Decisions

by Michael A. Debes, Resource Conservationist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Dodge City, Kansas

What to do with your expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage can be simple or complicated. For most landowners, that decision depends on their individual land use desires. Many have waited for years to be able to build a fence around those acres and graze it with cattle. Others cannot wait to till the land again or to re-enroll it in another CRP contract.

Any one of these decisions can be correct if it matches your individual land use desires. Each landowner must investigate the options and make his/her own land use decisions that fit the operation.

Both the general CRP and the Continuous CRP (CCRP) are voluntary programs for agricultural landowners. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers the program while the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical support to participants. In order to make an informed decision on your expiring acres, you need to know where to go for information. Both agencies, FSA and NRCS, are co-located at the local USDA Service Center. FSA handles administrative questions relating to payments, contract, and sign-up information.

NRCS will provide information relating to technical questions, such as cover type, management/maintenance practices, and cover establishment.

The total CRP and CCRP acres in the nation will be lowered due to Congressional mandates of the 2008 Farm Bill. As of August 2009, national FSA records show approximately 33,796,489 acres enrolled in the two programs. Of this amount, 3,099,333 acres are in Kansas. The majority of CRP acres in Kansas (2,989,890 acres) were enrolled through general CRP. The CCRP acres in Kansas are rising while the general acres are declining at a steady pace. Approximately 363,949 acres enrolled in general CRP in Kansas were eligible to expire on September 30, 2009.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages all landowners, local and absentee, with acres expiring soon in either CRP or CCRP to contact your local NRCS or conservation district office located at your local county USDA Service Center and to discuss options and/or alternatives for the expiring acres.

To learn more about NRCS, visit the Kansas NRCS Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov.

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