Annual enrollment for general CRP officially opened on January 4th of this year. Originally, enrollment was scheduled to close on February 12. However, the USDA has officially announced that enrollment will remain open for an unspecified period of time.
This means that farmers and landowners still have a chance to submit proposals and earn a contract for general CRP in 2021. General CRP works on a bidding system, scoring proposals based on the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). This is a ranking system used to determine the overall environmental benefits of a CRP submission.
The higher your EBI score is, the more likely you are to have your proposal accepted and earn a contract. Two of the biggest factors in determining EBI score are conservation practice (CP) selection and seed mix diversity. The CP you select determines the type of natural habitat you will establish. Meanwhile, your seed mix determines the specific vegetation that will be planted.
To maximize your EBI score, it’s important that you use a diverse seed mix. For example, if you’re establishing native grass and forb seed, you can maximize points by selecting a minimum of 5 native species including at least 3 native grasses and at least 1 shrub, forb, or legume. Though there currently isn’t a closing date set for general CRP, it’s best to act sooner rather than later. If your initial proposal isn’t accepted, you may still have time to make adjustments and resubmit.
New Administration. New Focus.
The extension for general CRP enrollment is likely due to the Biden administration’s greater focus on environmental protection and emissions reduction. President Biden has said he wants US farming to be “the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and create new sources of income for farmers in the process, by paying farmers to put their land in conservation and plant cover crops that use the soil to capture carbon.”
CRP can help achieve this. The program has already proven to have a positive impact on farmlands and their surrounding environment. By expanding CRP and making it more accessible, we can create a better future for US farmers and the environment as a whole.
In addition to enhancing and expanding existing programs such as CRP, there are also talks of creating an official carbon market, as well as a carbon bank under the USDA. This could provide farmers with further incentives for sequestering carbon and provide financial assistance for green initiatives.
Though it remains to be seen how exactly this will play out, farmers have an opportunity to get ahead of a curve by joining the Conservation Reserve Program now.
If you still wish to submit a proposal for general CRP, but you need help choosing a CP and deciding on your CRP seed mix, our parent company can help. FDCE provides full-service CRP solutions that take care of seed selection, purchasing, establishment, and reporting for cost-share reimbursement.
If you’ve already decided on a CP and a seed mix, we can provide you with high-quality CRP seed. In addition to our own proprietary mixes, we can also provide quotes for seed mixes developed by NRCS. At All Native Seed, we’ve spent the past 18 years perfecting our seed formulas, resulting in higher purity and better germination rates. Contact us today to get started.