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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set an Aug. 20, deadline for producers to apply for the Grassland CRP. The program helps producers protect grassland, while maintaining the area as grazing land.

Grassland CRP participants receive annual rental payments and cost share assistance. In return for conserving the grazing land according to NRCS Conservation Plan. The 2021 rental rates are $45 per acre for Cocke County, $43 per acre for Jefferson County, and $26 per acre for Sevier County.

The Grassland CRP is a working lands program. Working lands conservation programs help farmers to enhance the sustainability of their operation while keeping land in production.

FSA will rank offers for Grassland CRP using grassland ranking factors. FSA determines offer acceptability based on the ranking results. After close of the signup, FSA will rank all eligible offers based on their total points score for that offer. The Secretary of Agriculture will then determine the ranking point threshold used to accept offers for the signup.

Cost share is available for establishing permanent grasses and legumes in a CRP Grassland practice CP88. The program permits to graze, harvest hay, and seed production while receiving an annual rental payment for maintaining the existing permanent cover that is offered.

Producers are required to maintain and complete any maintenance /enhancement needed in the Grassland CRP. This includes any seeding of grasses or legumes along with applying applicable fertilizer and chemical application. All activities are subject to a Conservation Plan, with certain restrictions for haying during the primary nesting season.

For more information on the Grassland CRP Program, call the Jefferson/Sevier/Cocke Farm Service Agency at 865-397-3151 or email james.giffin@usda.gov.