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Nominations open for the 2018 county committee elections

• Jul 21, 2018 at 10:00 AM

The USDA FSA encourages all farmers, and FSA program participants to take part in the County Committee election nomination process. FSA’s county committees are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA and allow grassroots input and local administration of federal farm programs. Committees are comprised of locally elected agricultural producers responsible for the fair and equitable administration of FSA farm programs in their counties. Committee members are accountable to the Secretary of Agriculture. If elected, members become part of a local decision making and farm program delivery process.

A county committee is composed of three to 11 elected members from local administrative areas (LAA). Each member serves a three-year term. One-third of the seats on these committees are open for election each year. County committees may have an appointed advisor to further represent the local interests of underserved farmers. Underserved producers are beginning, women and other minority farmers and land owners and/or operators who have limited resources. Other minority groups including Native American and Alaska Natives; persons under the poverty level, and persons that have disabilities are also considered underserved. All nomination forms for the 2018 election must be postmarked or received in your FSA County office by Aug. 1.

In other news...

USDA resumes continuous Conservation Reserve Program enrollment: As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the USDA will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous signup (excluding applications for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP grasslands).

This pause allowed USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding the 24 million-acre CRP cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill. New limited practice availability with a signup deadline of Aug. 17 helps ensure that landowners with the most sensitive acreage will enroll in the program and avoid unintended competition with new and beginning farmers seeking leases. CRP enrollment currently is about 22.7 million acres.

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Soil rental rates updated for 2018: FSA has released updated 2018 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Soil Rental Rates. These rental rates are soil-specific estimates of dryland rental rates that FSA uses to set maximum payment rates for CRP offer and contracts. Soil rental rates were last updated in 2017. Virtually all soil rental rates have changes for 2018.

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USDA again accepts CRP Continuous Signup, 1-year contract extensions: For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new signup. USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter with more information. The one year extension signup is authorized through Aug. 17 for contracts expiring Sept. 30.

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About CRP: In return for enrolling land in CRP, USDA, through FSA on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), provides participants with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years. CRP pays producers who remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat. The new changes to CRP do not impact the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, a related program offered by CCC and state partners. More information on CRP can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

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Dates to remember:

Aug. 1 — Last day to file county committee nomination forms.

Aug. 1 — Last day to enroll in ARC/PLC coverage for 2018.

Aug. 15 — 2018 CRP Transition Incentives Program (TIP) enrollment application deadline.

Aug. 17 — 2018 CRP continuous enrollment signup deadline.

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