U.S. Representative Billy Long
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U.S. Representative Billy Long
August 30, 2019

How conservation programs can help local farmers and ranchers

So far, the only thing that the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands has reserved is the money authorized to go to farmers and ranchers. The refrain in the 1960s was, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” The refrain today is “What if they gave a program for farmers and ranchers and nobody came? Right now, that's exactly what's happening because farmers and ranchers don't seem to know this program exists or understand what it has to offer. Farmers are famously independent and don’t want bureaucrats in Washington telling them what they can or can’t do with their land. This is a “grasslands” program but guess what, you can do whatever you want with your grass, mow it, hay it or pasture it. The only thing you can’t do is till.  Hopefully, by the end of my column, more will understand the benefits and take advantage of this positive financial opportunity.

The CRP Grasslands, previously known as the Grasslands Reserve Program, is one of many conservation programs that fall under CRP. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA), this program is a land retirement program that allows farmers and ranchers to voluntarily offer their land to agricultural producers for conservation. The goal of this program is to conserve land while supporting grazing operations. 

The USDA and FSA compensate farmers and ranchers who take part in this program. Under the CRP Grasslands, participants receive annual payments as well as cost-share assistance during their contract, which can last between 14 and 15 years. Rental payments are given to farmers and ranchers who abide by an approved CRP conservation plan and cost-share assistance for those who take part in approved practices such as grazing, producing hay, mowing and harvesting for seed production. 

As beneficial as this program is, many farmers nationwide are unaware of it. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) joined me for my annual agricultural tour on August 23 and explained the program to attendees. Chairman Peterson, along with Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), worked hard to get this in the latest Farm Bill that is now law. 

After the agriculture tour, it became a top priority of mine to ensure farmers and ranchers in Missouri's 7th Congressional District are aware of the programs available to them and how to apply for these programs. If you're a farmer or rancher and want to learn more about the CRP Grasslands, visit https://bit.ly/2syYR5N, or to contact your local FSA or USDA center, visit https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.  

For more information on my activities in our district and in Washington, I encourage you to follow my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Rep.Billy.Long and my Twitter page at https://twitter.com/USRepLong. You can also subscribe to my weekly newsletter, "Long's Short Report," by visiting https://longforms.house.gov/newsletter-and-email-updates-form

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