In addition to contemplating 2011 planting decisions, cotton producers are advised to be aware of key conservation and disaster assistance program signup deadlines.
Is there a key signup approaching?
The next general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) begins on March 14 and continues through April 15, 2011. According to USDA, support has grown for the CRP over the past 25 years. This has contributed to the national effort to improve water and air quality, preserve habitat for wildlife, and prevent soil erosion by protecting the most sensitive areas, including those prone to flash flooding and runoff.
Many cotton producers already are employing practices that would make them eligible to participate and receive financial assistance under the CRP. Through CRP, eligible landowners receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Land can be enrolled for a period of up to 15 years. During the general signup period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. Land currently not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this signup provided all eligibility requirements are met. Contracts awarded under this signup are scheduled to become effective on Oct. 1, 2011 – thus the general signup for CRP will not affect cropped acres for the 2011 season. Additionally, current CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall may make new contract offers.
More information is at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp and by clicking on the “Conservation in Cotton Production” icon on the NCC’s Web site at www.cotton.org. That NCC portal features fact sheets and multiple 15-20 minute videos highlighting the CRP and other conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wetlands Reserve Pro-gram, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and the Conservation Stewardship Program. The videos also offer guidelines on how producers can become eligible for these programs and feature producer testimonials about how these programs have worked on their operations.
Any other important signups underway?
Signup for the 2009 crop year Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program is open to eligible producers through July 29, 2011. It is one of five disaster programs included in the 2008 farm law that provides assistance to producers who have suffered losses due to natural disasters.
To be eligible, a farm or ranch must have: 1) at least a 10 percent production loss on a crop of economic significance; 2) a policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for all economically significant crops; and 3) been physically located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county by the Agriculture Secretary under a Secretarial Disaster Designation. Without that Designation, individual producers may be eligible if a farm’s actual production is less than 50 percent of the farm’s normal production due to a natural disaster.
For more information on the 2009 SURE program, visit any FSA county office or go to USDA’s Web site atwww.fsa.usda.gov/sure.
Mark Lange is president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.
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