Eligible producers who want to enroll land in the Conservation Stewardship Program’s Grassland Conservation Initiative will now have until Nov. 8 to signup for a 2020 plan, according to Bill Northey, under secretary for farm production and conservation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The CSP’s Grassland Conservation Initiative was created by the 2018 farm bill and is available to producers with base acreage that has been in grass or grasslands over a nine-year period instead of planted with commodity crops. It means if producers have not grown a commodity crop from Jan. 1, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2017, and the land was returned to grass or grassland, they would be eligible to participate.

Northey said in a telephone interview eligible producers received letters from the Farm Service Agency earlier this year and it included information on how to apply through field offices of the Natural Resources Conservation. About 40,000 people were notified about the program, Northey said, noting the earlier letters stated the Oct. 25 deadline that has now been extended.

When enrolling in the initiative, producers must meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for one priority concern by the end of their five-year contract. Producers receive $18 per acre per year for the next five years, Northey said.

Northey said this initiative has different rules than the rest of CSP and is separately administered. Eligible producers who apply are accepted into the initiative. There is no ranking period and CSP payment limitations do not apply, according to USDA.

Producers that have not grown acres in cropland with base acres that meet the requirements would be eligible, he said. Besides the $18 per acre payment, producers may be able to use the grassland for haying or grazing.

If a producer had already signed up earlier in the year for 2019 they do not have to re-enroll those acres, the under secretary said.

Producers who sign up by Nov. 8 will receive their payments in 2020, he said. The CSP Grassland Conservation Initiative has been a well-received program in Kansas and Texas, Northey said.

The CSP is different from the more well known Conservation Reserve Program, which is also in the latest farm bill and has been popular with landowners for many years.

“We still have to get the final budget numbers from the Office of Management and Budget,” he said. “We are planning for a large CRP signup in December.”

The CRP is a 10-year program. The latest farm bill allows the acreage cap to go from 23 million acres to 27 million acres by 2023.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at dbergmeier@hpj.com or 620-227-1822.

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