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Notes for Erie, Huron county farmers

Register • Jul 10, 2014 at 8:00 AM

CRP Participants — Think twice before mowing

In the past, mowing of CRP grass cover was a widely accepted practice by many participants — if for no other purpose than aesthetics. Today with more research and understanding, it has been shown undisturbed grass cover will reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and is more beneficial to wildlife than annually mowed grass covers.

Undisturbed CRP covers could appear unattractive to those that do not understand its value. Wildlife, especially grassland birds, including pheasants and quail, and pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, view undisturbed CRP cover as a source of food and habitat suitable to raise their young. Wildlife will not be attracted to CRP cover if plants are not allowed to mature. Game birds and bees are disappearing because of habitat loss. Undisturbed grass cover does not include noxious weeds such as thistle and teasel or woody species like trees and multiflora rose. These noxious weeds must be controlled by spot mowing the affected areas or spot spraying an approved herbicide.

These treatments will have a minimal effect on the CRP practice cover’s ability to meet the purposes of erosion control, water quality and wildlife habitat. Spot mowing is less expensive than mowing the whole practice. Aesthetic beauty should not replace good land stewardship and economics. Unnecessary disturbance of CRP cover is considered a violation of the terms and conditions of the CRP contract and conservation plan. Violations could potentially result in hefty penalties, including contract termination and refund of all contract related payments.

Properly maintained CRP cover can be very attractive as long as noxious weeds and invasive species are controlled and grasses and wildflowers are allowed to mature. Please scout your CRP fields before weeds go to seed.

Contact your local FSA office for permission to spot treat your CRP grass cover during Ohio’s primary nesting season (March 1 to July 15). Plan to have your CRP cover assessed for the need of mid-contract management activities that are designed to enhance your CRP cover for wildlife. Mid-contract management is a contractual obligation that is outlined in your CRP-1 appendix and conservation plan. Contact the FSA office for more information on proper maintenance and management of CRP practice cover.

Remember, beauty is in the eye of the conservationist.

Are you thinking about selling land enrolled in CRP?

If you plan to sell farmland that’s enrolled in the CRP, our office would like to remind you about the terms and conditions of your contract. Under the CRP program, the original contract (CRP-1) will need to be revised to reflect the change in participants and/or shares on the contract. The new CRP participant(s) must sign a revised contract within 60 calendar days from the date of notification by the county committee or county executive director. If a revised contract isn’t signed within the 60-day timeframe, the contract will be terminated with respect to the affected portions of such land and the original CRP participant will be held liable. If the new landowner elects not to continue the CRP contract, the contract will be terminated.

When a contract is terminated, refund of the following payments plus interest is required from the original CRP participant: all annual rental payments, all cost share payments, signup incentive payments, and practice incentive payments. Liquidated damages are also assessed. Refunds of payments will not be required in cases where the owner’s estate or the heirs do not succeed to the contract. There are other cases that do not require the refund of payments, when a participant loses control of the land, such as eminent domain. Contact the Huron/Erie County FSA office if you have any questions regarding the terms and conditions of your CRP contract.

Is your email updated?

If you are not getting our newsletters or other important information from USDA and our office, we may not have your current email. We have had several occasions where producers have changed their email address but failed to report that change to us.

When you come in to certify, please let us know if your email has changed so we can keep in touch with you on a regular basis.

Certification is underway

The deadline to certify your 2014 crops is July 15. Now is the time to call your local FSA office and schedule your appointment to file your crop report. If you want, we can email your maps, you can complete them by entering your crop information — such as the type of crop, date planted, crop use, type of tillage and acres for each crop if the field is split — and return them to our office.

As long as your maps are in our office by July 15, you are considered to have filed timely, even if we do not call you to sign your certification until August.

When weather prevents or damages crops

When bad weather prevents planting or damages crops, the FSA would like to remind producers to report the acreage to the FSA office within 15 days of the final planting date of the crop. This applies to all crops, whether covered by crop insurance, not covered by insurance, or covered by FSA’s Non-insured Assistance Program.

Final planting dates vary among counties and crop types. Producers who have their crops insured through a private crop insurance company should contact the insurance agent immediately and advise them of the damaged crops. Additionally, a CCC-576, Notice of Loss Application, must be completed in person at the FSA office, and the prevented and/or failed acres reported. For those crops covered under FSA’s NAP, producers should immediately contact the FSA office to report the acres and file a CCC-576, Notice of Loss Application. Producers with NAP coverage should report their losses within 15 calendar days of crop damage from natural disaster, so the loss can be appraised and production counted before the crop is put into another use, abandoned or destroyed.

Crops not covered with a private insurance or NAP policy should still be reported to the local FSA office. This will provide FSA with a historical record of your crop should disaster assistance become available. For more information about reporting prevented planting or failed acres, contact or stop in the FSA office.

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