Kansas farmers who want their application for the National Resources Conservation Service Grassland Reserve Program considered for funding in the Fiscal Year 2012 program have only until Jan. 25 to get their paperwork done, according to Eric Banks, state conservationist for the NRCS.
The Grassland Reserve Program was reauthorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill). In FY 2012 Kansas received an allocation of $1.4 million to fund GRP. Typically, there are far more applicants for participation in the program than can be funded in any one year.
"Kansas has the finest, most productive native grassland in the world," said Banks, "and GRP offers a way for ranchers and farmers--the backbone of our economy--to ensure this unique natural resource remains a healthy and viable part of Kansas for years to come."
GRP is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance grasslands on their property through permanent easements and rental contracts (10-year, 15-year, or 20-year). For the FY 2012 program, priority will be given to enrolling land in easements.
The program emphasizes the preservation of native and natural grasslands and shrublands, support for grazing operations, plant and animal biodiversity, and the protection of grassland that is under multiple threats of conversion to other land uses.
Landowners are required to follow a conservation plan, which allows for common grazing practices. Those plans are also designed to stop the spread of unwelcome invasive species, such as sericea lespedeza and cedar trees.
Land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with an expiring contract in the next 12 months is also eligible for enrollment in GRP. Enrollment options for this land are limited to permanent easements and 20-year rental contracts.
"I would encourage producers interested in preserving their grasslands to stop by a USDA Service Center and visit with NRCS or Farm Service Agency (FSA) staffs to learn more about the program," Banks said.
Land enrolled in the Grassland Reserve Program can still be used for grazing or hay production.