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USDA launches Prairie Pothole conservation pilot program

The new Conservation Reserve Program Soil Health and Income Protection Program pilot is available to producers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

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Producers in the Prairie Pothole region can apply for a new CRP program that allows them to put cover crops on marginal acres. (Jenny Schlecht / Agweek)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency has announced a new pilot program that enables farmers in the Prairie Pothole region to receive payments for planting cover crops on their land for three to five years.

The new Conservation Reserve Program Soil Health and Income Protection Program pilot is available to producers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. The signup for this pilot starts March 30 and ends Aug. 21.

“We are excited to provide a short-term Conservation Reserve Program option tailored to the unique soil health needs of producers in the Prairie Pothole region,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “The number of acres that can be enrolled in the program are limited, and participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested landowners should act now by contacting their FSA county office for an appointment to apply.”

Producers have the option of three-, four- or five-year CRP contracts to establish cover crops on less productive cropland in exchange for payments. This pilot enables producers to plant cover crops that, among other benefits, will improve soil health and water quality while having the option to harvest, hay and graze during certain times of the year. Up to 50,000 acres can be enrolled.

Cover crops can improve the productivity of soils and soil health on a farm for generations and make a farm more profitable.

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For more information, see the fact sheet or visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp and contact your local office. To find your local USDA Service Center office, visit https://www.farmers.gov/service-locator.

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