Additional CRP SAFE “Back Forty Pheasant Habitat” Acres Available!
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) currently is offering a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign up to enroll land into the State Acres For wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) - Back Forty Pheasant Habitat. Minnesota has been allocated up to 50,000 acres that are now available to enroll in the tall grass prairie SAFE program to improve pheasant habitat, in addition to help prevent soil erosion and improve water quality. These SAFE acres will be limited to a “first come, first serve” basis.
The purpose of the Back Forty Pheasant Habitat conservation practice is to restore native grassland habitats to the landscape by establishing small blocks of grassland, and enhances existing habitats to maintain and enhance ring-necked pheasant populations within Minnesota. Additional goals are to build upon existing habitats to enhance waterfowl, grassland bird populations, and pollinators. Grasslands also provide winter cover, nesting cover for birds, birthing cover for deer, and a food source for resident wildlife and pollinators.
Through the CRP SAFE program, landowners enter into a 10 to 15 year contract and agree to establish native grassland cover on the enrolled acres. In return, the landowner receives up 90% financial assistance for establishment of cover, annual rental payments, and a onetime signing bonus of $75/acre. Land enrolled into the program can be designed to enroll entire fields, square up odd shaped fields, areas that are difficult to farm, eliminate hard to farm small field, or irrigation corners. Food plots can be included in the enrolled acres and shall be at least 0.25 acres but not to exceed 2 acres. There is no financial assistance available for establishing a food plot, but annual rental payments are still associated with the food plot acres. CRP acres is still considered private land and is not open to the public or open to public hunting unless permission is granted by the landowner. Landowners still have all the rights for recreation, hunting, and trapping on CRP acres.
Producers are also encouraged to look into continuous CRP practices because enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous CRP are a non-competitive sign-up basis .The more popular practices in the area that are eligible for continuous CRP are: field windbreaks, shelterbelts, living snow fence, riparian buffer, grassed waterways, and filter strips.
Since 2012, Benton SWCD has 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 Morrison County). Since 2012 Benton staff has enrolled over 2,000 acres of CRP, CCRP, & CRP SAFE acres.
If you are interested in learning more about the CRP SAFE and Continuous CRP programs please contact Nathan Sanoski at (320) 968-5300 ext. 3 or stop at the USDA office at 14 Second Avenue West in Foley.
District Technician/Farm Bill Technician
Benton Soil and Water Conservation District
Phone: 320-968-5300 ext. 3