Conservation Reserve Program

The CRP is a voluntary program that offers rental payments and cost share assistance to establish approved vegetative cover, or wetlands, on eligible land. Additional incentives are also in existence for certain continuous sign-up practices. Landowners are encouraged to plant long term vegetative covers to improve soil, water and wildlife resources. A variety of vegetative covers may be used for plantings, including cool and warm season grasses, forbs, trees and shrubs. Contract lengths vary from 10 to 15 years, depending upon the practice and landowner goals. The CRP is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), with technical assistance provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Certain special practices, usually involving small acreages, are eligible for CRP under the continuous sign-up period. These practices include filter strips, riparian buffers strips, field windbreaks, shelterbelts, shallow water areas for wildlife, habitat buffers for upland birds, wetland restoration, and bottomland tree plantings. Applications for these continuous practices may be made at any time that the program is authorized. As long as all the eligibility criteria are met, acceptance is automatic. Additional financial incentives are currently offered for these continuous sign-up practices. Interested producers are encouraged to take a look at practices and the incentives being offered.

As of December 31, 2013, there were 1,324 active CRP contracts within Starke County. These contracts contained a total of 14,446 acres.

More recently, the conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) has also been available for eligible acres and landowners within the Tippecanoe River Watershed. The Tippecanoe River Watershed includes most of North Bend Township and very small sections of southern Wayne and Railroad Townships. Under CREP, additional financial incentives, primarily provided by the State, are available for some of the continuous sign-up practices. Common CREP practices include riparian buffers, bottomland tree plantings, and strips of warm season grasses, trees or wildlife plantings adjacent to bodies of water. Options for enrollment of certain acreage under easements are also available under CREP. As of December 31, there were 972.4 acres enrolled under CREP in Starke County. This acreage was included within 73 contracts. This acreage is also included within the overall CRP totals provided in previous paragraphs. In early 2008, enrollment began under CRP practices titled “State Acreages Wildlife Enhancement” or SAFE. In Indiana, four project areas were established which provide for acres to be devoted for the purpose of benefiting specific threatened and endangered species. Starke County is included under the State project areas for Indiana Bat and Northern Bobwhite Quail. Eligibility requirements in regards to ownership and cropping history are the same as for other CRP enrollments. Acreage devoted to the development of habitat for the Indiana Bat must be planted to a selected list of trees while acreage devoted to the development of the Northern Bobwhite Quail must be planted to selected warm season grasses and forbs. SAFE is a program with a capped acreage. This acreage cap has been met and no further acreage enrollment will be permitted. As of December 31, there were 48 contracts enrolled in SAFE within Starke County, containing a total of 1,004.9 acres. Acreages enrolled under SAFE are included under the CRP acreage total.

The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.