Opportunity: $62 million awarded to New York CREP program
The FSA answers FAQs on CREP participation

Interpretation: New York's Farm Service Agency answers questions about who's eligible for a little piece of the $62 million pie that New York has been awarded for its Conversation Reserve Enhancement Program.

TROY, New York, October 30, 2003 (ENS): The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the State of New York have announced a $62 million Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) agreement to improve water conditions on 30 million acres within New York’s 12 major watersheds. These watersheds serve 55 percent of the state’s population.

CREP is a voluntary program that pays participants to implement conservation practices on environmentally sensitive land. In return, participants receive annual rental payments, cost-share assistance and other financial incentives.

What areas in New York are included in the program?

Producers can offer eligible cropland and marginal pastureland in New York's 12 major watersheds, which serve approximately 55 percent of New York's population. The 12
watersheds are:

  • Allegany River Basin
  • Black River/St. Lawrence Watersheds
  • Chesapeake Bay/Susquehana River Watershed
  • Delaware River Watershed
  • Genesee - Oswego - Seneca - Oneida River Watershed
  • Lake Champlain Watershed
  • Lake Erie - Niagara River Watersheds
  • Lake Ontario Direct Drainage Watershed
  • Long Island Sound - Peconic Bay Watershed
  • Lower Hudson River Basin
  • Mohawk River Watershed
  • Upper Hudson River Watershed.

Public wellhead protection areas, as designated by the New York State Department of Health in accordance with the state's approved wellhead protection program, are eligible for enrollment within these 12 watersheds. Interested producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office for specific information regarding their eligibility for CREP.

What are the goals of the New York CREP?

The goals of the New York CREP are to:

  • Reduce annual nutrient loads of phosphorus by 73,000 pounds, nitrogen by 29,000 pounds per year and sedimentsfrom 109,000 tons per year;
  • Reduce the potential for animal waste to enter streams andrivers;
  • Establish tree buffers adjacent to 4,598 stream miles and 473,457 acres of surface waters; and
  • Establish grass and trees on areas that recharge drinking water supplies for cities and towns.

What conservation measures are applicable?

To better serve program goals, specific CRP conservation practices have been identified for inclusion in the program.

For land qualifying on the basis of erosion, where at least 50 percent of the land is within 1,000 feet of a surface water source and has an erodibility index of 15 or greater (relatively steep-sloping land), the applicable practices are:

  • Establishment of Permanent Introduced Grasses and Legumes
  • Establishment of Permanent Native Grasses
  • Tree Planting
  • Hardwood Tree Planting
  • Permanent Wildlife Habitat Corridor, Non-Easement
  • Permanent Wildlife Habitat, Non-Easement
  • Shallow Water Areas for Wildlife
  • Vegetative Cover - Grass - Already Established
  • Vegetative Cover - Trees - Already Established
  • Wetland Restoration

Editor's note: FSA and NRCS representatives confirmed that the organic farming practice of cover cropping would be considered an acceptable use of eroded land.

For wellhead protection areas designated by the New York State Department of Health, the applicable practices are:

  • Establishment of Permanent Introduced Grasses and Legumes
  • Establishment of Permanent Native Grasses
  • Tree Planting
  • Hardwood Tree Planting
  • Permanent Wildlife Habitat Corridor, Non-Easement
  • Permanent Wildlife Habitat, Non-Easement
  • Vegetative Cover - Grass - Already Established
  • Vegetative Cover - Trees - Already Established

Editor's note: FSA and NRCS representatives confirmed that the organic farming practice of cover cropping would be considered an acceptable use of wellhead protection land.

For lands qualifying as riparian buffers, the applicable practices are:

  • Grass Waterways
  • Establishment of Permanent Vegetative Cover -Contour Grassed Strips
  • Filter Strips (Grass Strips)
  • Riparian Buffers (Trees Planted Next to Streams)
  • Marginal Pastureland Wildlife Habitat Buffer
  • Marginal Pastureland Wetland Buffer

Editor's note: FSA and NRCS representatives confirmed that the organic farming practice of cover cropping would be considered an acceptable riparian buffer.

Who and what are eligible for the New York CREP and for how long?

Enrollment will be on a continuous basis beginning Dec. 1, 2003 through Dec. 31, 2007. Cropland must meet cropping history criteria and be physically and legally capable of being cropped in a normal manner. Marginal pastureland is also eligible for enrollment provided it is suitable for use as a buffer practice. Persons who have acreage under an existing CRP contract or an approved offer with a contract pending are not eligible for CREP on that acreage until that
contract expires. Other requirements will also apply. Contract terms will be set out in the CRP contract and regulations.

What are the payments under CREP?

Subject to contract terms and certain limitations, New York CREP participants will be eligible for the following types of USDA payments:

  • Signing Incentive Payment: A one-time payment of $100 to $150 per acre for land enrolled in a grass waterway, riparian buffer or filter strip practice. This payment is made after the contract has been signed and approved.
  • Practice Incentive Payment: A one-time payment equal to about 40 percent of the eligible cost for certain practices. This payment is in addition to up to 50 percent cost-share
    assistance that USDA will provide for installing eligiblepractices.
  • Infeasible to Farm Acreage: In cropland where more than 50 percent of a field is enrolled as a buffer, if the remainder of the field (not part of the original offer) is determined as infeasible to farm, then the remainder may be enrolled as part of the practice at regular rental rates. Incentives do not apply for land determined and enrolled as
    infeasible to farm.
  • Annual Incentive Payments: Annual incentive payments of 145 percent of the established weighted average county soil rental rate, as determined and established by CCC will be
    used in connection with normal CRP sign-ups for all practices under this agreement.
  • Annual Rental Payment for the life of the contract: Producers are eligible for a base Soil Rental Rate (SRR) equal to the weighted SRR of the three predominant soils.
  • Cost-Share Assistance: Cost-share assistance of up to 50 percent for the installation of the eligible conservation practices on enrolled land apply.
  • Annual Maintenance Payment: In accordance with Handbook 2-CRP procedure, annual maintenance payments apply.

In addition, New York will offer the following:

  • An annual tax credit to producers whose lands are enrolled in CREP amounting to 100 percent of the school property tax.

Can I still enroll in general CRP and continuous sign-up CRP?

Yes. CREP is another option under CRP that farmers may select to enhance their land; applicants may still enroll eligible land in the regular general CRP or continuous sign-up CRP. However, CREP provides additional benefits not available through the general and/or continuous sign-up. The CREP enrollment process is on a continuous basis and payments are at a higher effective rate.

Can I hay or graze my CREP land?

Haying and grazing currently are not permitted during the CRP contract period unless USDA allows them for emergency purposes or managed haying and grazing purposes, if applicable, under normal CRP rules.

Where can I get more information about the program?

More information on the New York CREP is available from local FSA offices and on FSA's Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov.