There will be a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up will be held Dec. 1, 2015, through Feb. 26, 2016. Combined with the added announcement of 800,000 new acres available to
landowners through the program’s various targeted continuous CRP practices, the general and continuous program offerings continue CRP’s legacy and will provide a much needed upland habitat boost to
recovering pheasant, quail and upland wildlife populations.
The general sign-up will begin the same month CRP – regarded as the most successful conservation initiative in modern U.S. history – officially celebrates its 30th anniversary. This milestone is not
lost on program participants, supporters and policy-makers:
“For 30 years, the Conservation Reserve Program has supported farmers and ranchers as they continue to be good stewards of land and water. This initiative has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more
than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequestering 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking
8 million cars off the road,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This has been one of most successful conservation programs in the history of the country, and today’s announcement keeps
that momentum moving forward.”
CRP consists of a “general” and “continuous” sign-up period. The General CRP sign up is a state wide competitive program that is only available to eligible land when a sign up is announced. The
Continuous CRP sign up can enroll eligible land at any time with contracts of up to 10 to 15 years in duration. The more popular Continuous CRP practices in the area are: CRP State Acres For wildlife
Enhancement (SAFE), field windbreaks, shelterbelts, living snow fence, riparian buffer, wetland restoration, grassed waterways, and filter strips.
With each continuous CRP practice the landowner receives a onetime “signing bonus” of $100/acre plus an annual rental payment, and up 90% cost share for establishment of cover. The annual rental
rates are based off of the soils present in area to be enrolled in CRP. The current soil rental rates per acre for Benton County are $59-$88, Mille Lacs County $52-$84, and Morrison County $61-$95.
Practices such as field windbreaks, shelterbelts, riparian buffers, wetland restorations, grass waterways, and filter strips will also receive an additional 20% soil rental rate incentive which will
be added to the soil rental rate.
One of the more popular practices for the area has been the CRP SAFE - Back Forty Pheasant Habitat. As part of the continuous enrollment portion of CRP, Minnesota landowners have been allocated a
limited amount of acres for enrollment in the CRP SAFE program, which establishes small to large blocks of native grasses and flowers. These acres will be limited to a “first come, first serve”
The purpose of the Back Forty Pheasant Habitat conservation practice is to restore grassland habitats to the landscape to maintain and enhance ring-necked pheasant populations within Minnesota.
Additional goals are to build upon existing habitats to enhance waterfowl and grassland bird populations. Grasslands also provide winter cover, birthing cover, and a food source for resident
Land enrolled into the CRP SAFE program can be designed to enroll entire fields, square up odd shaped fields, or eliminate areas that are difficult to farm, small fields, or irrigation corners. Food
plots can be included in the enrolled CRP SAFE acres (at least 0.25 acres but not
to exceed 2 acres). There is no cost share available for establishing a food plot, but annual rental
payments are still associated with the food plot acres.
Since 2012, Benton SWCD received a Farm Bill Assistance Partnership Grant which
allows technical staff to assist with Farm Bill Programs such as CRP and Continuous CRP. The
partnership allows technical staff to promote and assist rural landowners to tap into federal farm
bill programs to develop habitat and conserve soil, water, wildlife, and other natural resources in
Benton, Mille Lacs, and southern Morrison County (primarily the Little Rock Lake Watershed in
If you are interested in learning more about the CRP, continuous CRP program and CRP
SAFE please contact Nathan Sanoski at (320) 968-5300 ext. 3 or stop at the USDA office at 14
Second Avenue West in Foley. Because there is only a limited amount of CRP SAFE acres
available we encourage producers to schedule a time to meet with our staff as soon as possible.