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USDA funds available for Ohio grassland owners

Columbus — The USDA Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced the availability of the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) for Ohio producers.

This program was reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, is voluntary, and provides opportunities for agricultural operators to protect grazing uses and other related conservation values by restoring and conserving eligible grasslands and certain other lands through rental contracts and easements.

Land that is privately owned is eligible for GRP. The land must be grassland for which the predominant use is grazing. Land that has been historically dominated by grassland and provides habitat for animal or plant populations of significant ecological value, or land that contains historical or archeological resources is eligible. Publicly owned land is not eligible. Land already under protection from conversion to non-grazing uses is also not eligible. Land previously enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is eligible for GRP.

The applicant must be the landowner if the permanent easement option is desired. If the rental contract is desired, the applicant must have control of the eligible acres offered. In addition, the participant must agree to provide information to USDA which is necessary to determine eligibility for program benefits. The participant must also meet the adjusted gross income and conservation compliance requirements.

The enrollment options for GRP include:

Permanent easements – USDA makes a payment based on the fair market value of the property less the grazing value.

Rental contracts – 10, 15, or 20-year in duration, UDSA pays 75 percent of the grazing value in annual payments for the length of the agreement.

The deadline for submitting applications for the 2009 funding cycle is June 26, 2009.

Visit your local NRCS office for more information about EQIP, GRP and other conservation programs or visit us on the web at www.oh.nrcs.usda.gov.