As our quiet time is quickly drawing to a close, this is an opportune time to take another look at your farming operation and determine if there are areas that could benefit from the establishment of one or more conservation practices.
For instance, do you have a ditch or stream running through your farm that needs a filter strip? Is a particular field prone to wind erosion and stands to benefit from a windbreak? How about that one area that’s hard to farm because it’s always wet? Have you considered how FSA’s Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (Lake Erie CREP) might benefit your farming operation and help to protect the environment at the same time?
Lake Erie CREP began with the main objective to improve water quality in all of our rivers, streams and tributaries within the Lake Erie watershed. These conservation practices will target environmentally sensitive areas to reduce sediments and nutrients, prevent water pollution and minimize the risk of flooding and improve the habitat for multiple wildlife species. The Lake Erie Conservation Enhancement Program (CREP) like all of our conservation programs is voluntary. It is entirely up to the landowner or the farm operator to enroll acres in a particular program. Through our federal partnerships it is quite possible that we can have a conservation plan in place before this spring’s planting.
Farmers and landowners can choose from a number of practices including grass buffer strips, hardwood tree plantings, wildlife habitat, wetlands and windbreaks that work together to prevent chemicals, soils and other contaminants from running off of cropland and into waterways. Also, participants can earn money on less economically viable land, such as land along ditch banks, streams, and woodlands. In exchange for installing and maintaining these practices, you will earn a guaranteed annual rental payment for 14 to 15 years plus receive cost share and potential incentives to cover the majority of the cost of practice installation. The annual income from the conservation practice will be similar to what is paid for cash rent on the three predominant soils of the CREP practice area.
Additional soil rental rate incentives are also available. Also, FSA can provide you with an estimate of the payments you would be eligible to receive for the duration of the contract period (14 or 15 years). The Lake Erie CREP is available in both Huron and Erie County. Sign-up for the Lake Erie CREP is going on now! Interested landowners and farmers should contact their FSA County office to learn more about the Lake Erie CREP.
Here are some agri-business notes from the Huron and Erie County Farm Service Agency:
Filing CCC-941 adjusted gross income certifications: Producers are reminded to complete and file form CCC-941, Adjusted Gross Income Certification to receive Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments, Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs) and Market Gains on Marketing Assistance Loans (MALs). Although not currently available, LDPs will not be paid until all eligible producers, including landowners who share in the crop, have filed a valid CCC-941.
Producers without a valid CCC-941 certifying their compliance with the average adjusted gross income provisions will not receive payments that have been processed. All farm operator/tenants/owners who have not filed a CCC-941 and have pending payments should IMMEDIATELY file the form with their recording county FSA office. Farm operators and tenants are encouraged to ensure that their landowners have filed the form, and the CCC-633 EZ just in case LDP’s should become available. FSA can accept the CCC-941 for 2015 and 2016.
Unlike the past, producers must have the CCC-941 certifying their AGI compliance before any payments can be issued.
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ARC, PLC acreage maintenance: Producers enrolled in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) must protect all cropland and noncropland acres on the farm from wind and water erosion and noxious weeds. Producers who sign ARC county or individual contracts and PLC contracts agree to effectively control noxious weeds on the farm according to sound agricultural practices. Failure to take necessary actions to correct a maintenance problem on a farm enrolled in ARC, or PLC could result in the COC terminating the contract for the program year. Questions? Contact your local FSA office.
Diana Strouse is the county executive director for the Huron and Erie County Farm Service Agency. For more information, call the agency at 419-668-4113.