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USDA’s cover crop programme

USDA’s cover crop programme

(Posted on 02/03/20)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is launching a new pilot programme under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that enables farmers in the Prairie Pothole region to receive payments for planting cover crops on their land for three to five years.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced Feb. 24 that the new Soil Health and Income Protection Programme (SHIPP) pilot, authorized by the 2018 farm law, is available to producers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Signup for the pilot starts March 30 and ends Aug. 21.

SHIPP, which will allow up to 50,000 acres to be enrolled, is intended to be a shorter-term alternative to general and continuous CRP contracts. Landowners and operators will be able to elect a three-, four- or five-year contract, with the contract effective start date on Oct. 1, 2020.

Offers for enrollment will be accepted on a non-competitive, first-come, first-served basis. Only land that was planted – including summer fallow rotation – or prevented from being planted in each of the years 2017, 2018, and 2019 will be eligible for enrollment. No more than 15 percent of the eligible land on a farm may be enrolled in SHIPP, and 100 percent of the offered acreage must be considered “less productive” than the farm’s cropland, based on the maximum productivity values of the soils on the farm.

Annual rental rates for SHIPP will be 50 percent of the weighted average soil rental rate; with the exception that limited resource, socially disadvantaged, beginning or veteran farmers and ranchers will receive annual rental rates valued at 75 percent of the weighted average soil rental rate.

Under SHIPP, producers must establish the lowest practical cost perennial conserving use cover crop that promotes soil health. Cost-share for practice establishment is available only for beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, or veteran farmers and ranchers.

FSA will be sending a postcard announcing the SHIPP pilot to all 2020 owners and operators in all counties in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota this week.

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