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Published March 19, 2012, 09:16 AM

Sign-up starts for CRP farm program; biologist hired for Douglas County area

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a four-week Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up, beginning March 12, 2012 and ending on April 6, 2012. There are approximately 1.6 million enrolled CRP acres in Minnesota, with an estimated 292,000 acres set to expire on Sept. 30, 2012.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a four-week Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up, beginning March 12, 2012 and ending on April 6, 2012. There are approximately 1.6 million enrolled CRP acres in Minnesota, with an estimated 292,000 acres set to expire on Sept. 30, 2012.

Thanks to a partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Minnesota’s Farm Bill Assistance Partnership recently added three new Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist positions; Tony Nelson covers Clay County, Josh Meissner covers Douglas County, and Alex Nelson covers Kandiyohi County. Partnership staff stand at the ready to assist farmers and landowners in understanding options on how to bid their land into CRP in the most competitive way. To make an appointment to discuss your options for CRP, or for a listing of CRP informational workshops across the state, please go to Minnesota Pheasants Forever.

Minnesota Farm Bill Assistance Partnership staff are based out of their local USDA Service Center and work with landowners to ensure the highest EBI score possible to improve the chances of CRP acceptance. Here are Pheasants Forever's TOP 5 things to consider when submitting a competitive CRP bid:

#5: Offer new acres in a diverse planting of native grasses and flowers (CP25) practice on 90% of the offer, and a food plot (CP12) on the remainder.

#4: Offer new acres in a diverse planting of native grasses and flowers (CP25) practice on 90% of the offer, and a CP4B on the remaining 10% of the offer -OR- Offer in a CP25 practice on 90% of the offer, with an expiring CP4D contract (min 5 species) on the remaining 10% of the offer.

#3: Conversion of an expiring grassland (CP1 or CP2) CRP contract to a CP25 practice on 100% of the offer -OR- A new acres offer to a CP25 practice on 100% of the offer.

#2: Conversion of an expiring CP1 or CP2 contract (51% monoculture or more in the stand) to a CP25 practice on 100% of the offer.

#1: A conversion of an expiring CP1 or CP2 contract (that does NOT have 51% or more in a monoculture stand) to a diverse native grass and flower (CP25) practice on 90% of the offer, and pollinator (CP42) practice on the remainder -OR- A new acres offer diverse native grass and flowers (CP25) practice on 90% of the offer, and pollinator practice (CP42) on the remainder.

For additional information regarding the CRP general sign-up, go to the USDA website. For more information regarding Pheasants Forever or the Conservation Reserve Program in Minnesota, please contact Matt Holland, Pheasants Forever Senior Field Coordinator, at (320) 354-4377 / Email Matt.

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation.

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