The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing almost $1.8 million in cooperative agreements with six partner organizations for outreach and technical assistance to promote awareness and understanding of the Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program among agricultural communities. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers the program as an important tool to help beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers access land, as well as keep agricultural lands in production. These partnerships build on other efforts by USDA to increase equity in program delivery and broaden the reach of its programs to underserved producers.
“The Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program creates opportunities to ensure expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts are used to support the next generation of producers by incentivizing transfer of land access and ownership. Connecting Conservation Reserve Program contract holders to beginning, veteran and underserved farmers and ranchers, as well as making sure landowners understand the program, its benefits and potential for positive, generational impact, is an ongoing challenge,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “FSA is partnering with organizations to increase enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program by providing outreach and technical assistance to the agricultural community with a focus on increasing awareness about the program and a primary goal of connecting landowners and land seekers interested in program participation.”
Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program Partnership Projects
In addition to the outreach and technical assistance focused proposals, FSA prioritized project proposals that analyze the Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program, building upon prior studies of barriers to Transition Incentives Program participation. These projects will provide recommendations for improving the program and the identification of best practices.
- Victus Puerto Rico, Inc. - This project aims to assess the agency’s current Hispanic farmers outreach practices and identify areas of opportunity and potential pitfalls. After a comprehensive assessment and testing of different outreach strategies, the project will make recommendations and focus on increasing the Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program awareness and participation through best-practice outreach and relevant technical assistance. The focus will be underserved Hispanic farmers in Texas and New Mexico and will include bilingual assistance. This project will use existing data, reports, literature reviews, and other sources and will generate data through its outreach, leading to local intel that creates local partnerships and will drive strategies for increasing Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program participants for years to come.
- Bean Education and Advocacy Network Foundation, Inc. – This project will address outreach and technical assistance and will also help landowners and land seekers through referral-based services, connecting them to legal and financial assistance that will support successful transition of farmland. The project will provide a network (website and database) in which landowners and land seekers will be able to find and locate each other. It will also provide group and one-on-one informational instruction and technical assistance to improve, inform and educate. Focus will be in areas where there is historically underutilized land, and where there is a disconnect with those who wish to lease or own land as a socially disadvantaged farmer in Alabama and Mississippi.
- Center for Rural Affairs – This project has the primary goal of connecting landowners and land seekers interested in program participation. This project will span the states of Iowa and Nebraska, with emphasis on areas of the state with upcoming or expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts. Iowa and Nebraska have hundreds of thousands of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. This, combined with the increasing age of landowners and producers, will create an opportunity for Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program enrollment in upcoming years. Outreach materials, media pieces, and relationships built through this project will stay relevant and will be shared and made available online beyond the project term. Their website and social media platforms reach tens of thousands of individuals every year. Producers and landowners who are not at the end of their Conservation Reserve Program contract will be educated on the benefits of enrolling in the Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program when the time comes. The project will have an impact for years to come.
- Kansas State University – This project will increase the use of the Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program within the state of Kansas to provide land access opportunities to eligible Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program producers. The project will provide six educational conferences in areas where Conservation Reserve Program acres will be eligible for the Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program. In addition, a Land-Link program will be specifically marketed to Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program eligible landowners to provide a network for potential matches with land-seekers. The project will also offer technical assistance to landowners/operators and beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers to facilitate transition discussions and evaluate financially feasible options of transition.
- The Widget Business Training Company – This project focuses on designated counties in Alabama, including the Black Belt Prairie SAFE Area. The object of the project is to identify current Conservation Reserve Program landowners that are willing to participate in the Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program. The project will conduct workshops and create a process to introduce the potential sellers or lessors to prospective buyers or lessees. For the ability of future transfers, they will develop a registry for all potential sellers and lessors and all potential buyers and lessees.
- Trustees of Indiana University – The project will build a clearer national understanding of the Transition Incentives Program’s social and agro-ecological effects on the ground, and opportunities to dissolve barriers to participation for underserved farmers and farmers interested in ecologically sustainable farming practices. The project will focus on 18 priority Transition Incentives Program states: Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Washington. The project will look at who participates in the Transition Incentives Program, what takes place on Transition Incentives Program land, how lands convert from the Conservation Reserve Program to production, and how the Transition Incentives Program affects participating farmers’ and ranchers’ entry into – and success in – agriculture. It will also clarify impediments to the Transition Incentives Program in places where the Conservation Reserve Program is prevalent, and opportunities to dissolve those impediments, by learning directly from farmers who do not participate in the Transition Incentives Program.
About the Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program
The Conservation Reserve Program-Transition Incentives Program provides assistance for landowners or operators to transition land expiring from the Conservation Reserve Program to a beginning, veteran or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher for sustainable grazing or transition to crop production. The program pays owners or operators of land enrolled in an expiring Conservation Reserve Program contract up to two additional annual Conservation Reserve Program payments if they sell or lease their expiring Conservation Reserve Program land to an eligible non-family member. The producer gaining access or ownership to the land must return the land to production using sustainable grazing or crop production methods and be provided the opportunity to re-enroll some or all of the land into Conservation Reserve Program or enroll in the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program or Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
- A beginning farmer or rancher is one who has farmed or ranched 10 years or less, and materially and substantially participates in the operation.
- A socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher is a farmer or rancher who is a member of a group whose members have historically been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as a member of that group without regard to their individual qualities. For this program, gender is not included among these groups.
Source : usda.gov
- A veteran farmer or rancher is a person who served in the Armed Forces and who has obtained status as a veteran during the most recent 10-year period, or who has not operated a farm or ranch, or operated a farm or ranch for no more than 10 years.