USDA has announced a new pilot program that enables farmers in the Prairie Pothole region to receive payments for planting cover crops on their land for three to five years.
The new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) pilot is available to producers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The signup for this pilot starts March 30 and ends August 21, 2020.
“We are excited to provide a short-term Conservation Reserve Program option tailored to the unique soil health needs of producers in the Prairie Pothole region,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce.
“The number of acres that can be enrolled in the program are limited, and participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested landowners should act now by contacting their FSA county office for an appointment to apply.”
Through SHIPP, producers have the option of three-, four- or five-year CRP contracts to establish cover crops on less productive cropland in exchange for payments. This pilot enables producers to plant cover crops that, among other benefits, will improve soil health and water quality while having the option to harvest, hay and graze during certain times of the year. Up to 50,000 acres can be enrolled.
The land can also be harvested for seed outside of the primary nesting season, in exchange for a 25% reduction in the annual rental rate and not being insured through federal crop insurance.
Cover crops, whether used in a single crop rotation or over multiple years, can improve the productivity of soils and soil health on a farm for generations and increase the bottom line for the farmer. Soil health, or soil quality, by definition, is the capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans.
A USDA fact sheet states rental rates will be made at 50% of the weighted average soil rental rate, using the average rental rate for the applicable county. Farmers who are considered beginning farmers, veterans, socially disadvantaged or with limited resources could see the rental rate raised to 75%.
Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) Pilot
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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