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Ag Briefs

USDA reopens Continuous CRP signup

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications beginning June 3 for certain practices under the continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signup and will offer extensions for expiring CRP contracts. The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized CRP, one of the country’s largest conservation programs.

FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the continuous CRP signup when 2014 Farm Bill authority expired. Since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill last December, USDA FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said FSA has carefully analyzed the language and determined that a limited signup prioritizing water-quality practices furthers conservation goals and makes sense for producers as FSA works to fully implement the program.

Continuous CRP signup

This year’s signup will include such practices as grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices approved for this program.

Continuous signup enrollment contracts are 10 to 15 years in duration. Soil rental rates will be set at 90 percent of the existing rates. Incentive payments will not be offered for these contracts.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program signup

FSA will also reopen signup for existing Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) agreements. Fact sheets on current CREP agreements are available on this webpage.

Other CRP signup options

FSA will open a CRP general signup in December 2019 and a CRP Grasslands signup later.

CRP contract extensions

A one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants who have expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter describing their options.

Alternatively, producers with expiring contracts may have the option to enroll in the Transition Incentives Program, which provides two additional annual rental payments on the condition the land is sold or rented to a beginning farmer or rancher or a member of a socially disadvantaged group.

More information

Producers interested in applying for continuous CRP practices, including those under existing CREP agreements, or who need an extension, should contact their USDA service center beginning June 3. To locate your local FSA office, visit www.farmers.gov. More information on CRP can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

Schools agree to buy beef produced with reduced antibiotics

ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) — Four upstate New York school districts have signed onto a new program aimed at reducing use of antibiotics on farms to prevent the emergence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that threaten human health.

The Tompkins County districts have awarded beef procurement contracts to Slate Foods, which purchases cattle from farms that agree to reduce use of antibiotics. It’s the first success in the Oneonta-based Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship’s campaign to grow market demand for safer antibiotic practices.

The districts are Dryden, Groton, Ithaca and Trumansburg. Advocates hope to get other districts to award contracts specifying farm management practices that lower the risk of infection in cattle and reduce antibiotic use.

Overuse of antibiotics in animals and humans has created a public health crisis by producing bacteria that cause untreatable infections.

Better weather helps Nebraska farmers plant corn, soybeans

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Good weather enabled Nebraska farmers to make progress in planting crops last week, but they remain behind historic averages.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that for the week ending Sunday, there were five days suitable for field works.

Thanks to the better weather, farmers managed to raise the amount of corn planted to 70% of the anticipated crop. That’s still behind the 86% planted last year and for the five-year average. About 27% of the corn crop had emerged, significantly behind the 49% last year and for the five-year average.

For soybeans, farmers had planted 40% of the crop, behind last year’s 64% and the 54% average.

Apple growers pleased with end of tariffs by Mexico

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — Apple growers in Washington state are cheering the end of a 20% tariff on apples shipped to Mexico.

The demise of the apple tariff was part of a deal reached Friday between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that also involved the removal of steel and aluminum tariffs by the U.S.

The Washington Apple Commission said Washington state accounts for 90% to 95% of all U.S apple exports and Mexico is Washington’s top export market with 13 million boxes shipped there annually.

The apple commission says exports have been down compared to previous years, partly due to a smaller crop and partly due to barriers to trade.

Exports to Mexico are down 29.3% this year compared to the 2017-18 season.

The retaliatory tariffs were implemented in June of last year.

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