Free CRP Tip Sheet
'Bid To Win' tells how to increase your score and land that contract.
10/14/97: Walthill, Neb. -- The Center for Rural Affairs today released a conservation tip sheet with suggestions for farmers considering a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract. The USDA plans a general CRP sign-up period from October 14 through November 14.
"The 'Bid To Win' tip sheet should help farmers maximize their CRP bid," says Duane Hovorka, who operates the Center's Conservation Options Hotline. "The general CRP sign-up will be very competitive, and farmers need to know how their application will be scored and what they can do to increase that score."
The tip sheet explains which parts of the CRP score a farmer can control, like cover vegetation selection and bid price, and which parts are based on factors beyond the farmer's control, like the soil erodibility and wetlands.
"Select the land you bid carefully," says Hovorka. "The CRP is designed to reduce soil erosion and protect water quality, so hilly land or land with wetlands or streams and lakes nearby will score higher. Vegetative cover is also a critical decision, and one that can score you or cost you a lot of points. The CRP is designed to boost wildlife habitat, and that generally means a mix of vegetation native to the area."
"Bonus points are available for landowners willing to restore a wetland or a rare habitat like tallgrass prairie. Trees, especially deciduous, will also score points in your bid," says Hovorka.
USDA's CRP Continuous Signup Buffer Strip Initiative is also very important to consider. "Farmers willing to sign up for partial field practices such as streamside buffer strips, filter strips, windbreaks, grass waterways and other practices can sign up anytime," says Hovorka. "They don't even need to go through a competitive bid. If you qualify, you're in."
Hovorka also encourages farmers to not wait too long. "Go in and talk with your USDA county office as soon as you can, find out about your cover options and the maximum bid cap for the fields you consider, and ask them for suggestions for boosting your bid score."
The "Bid To Win" tip sheet can be requested by calling the Center for Rural Affairs' Conservation Options Hotline at (402) 994-2021, or email Hovorka at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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