Producers need to perform CRP duties

Conservation Reserve Program producers have the responsibility to perform those normal and reoccurring duties and maintenance activities that are described and recorded in the federal conservation plan of operations explained with each of their contracts.

These actions can include timely seeding of temporary or permanent cover crops, conducting controlled burns, mowings and herbicide sprayings.

In respect to range burning, local county laws and regulations need to be obeyed when planning and conducting a burn. Please be aware that any of these actions must be suspended during the designated wildlife nesting period from April 15 to July 15, when disturbance of CRP acres should be kept restricted or limited.

Producers are also reminded to be aware of and obey prohibited- and restricted-use rules as they apply on CRP acreage. Please address and correct potential violation issues on contract acres which could include the following:

? Use as trash disposal areas.

? Building or facility construction.

? Storage or parking of machinery, junked autos and other items.

? Establishing permanent vehicle passage roads or trails.

? Cosmetic or hunting lane mowing.

? Installation of oil/gas wells and associated access roads.

Trees are prohibited on CRP acreage unless they are part of the conservation plan. Haying, grazing and harvesting of CRP acres are also not allowed. However, a managed or permissive haying and grazing activity can be performed on well-established CRP stands if it is approved through a conservation plan modification.

Good CRP maintenance operations achieve not only the suppression of undesirable weed, tree and brush growth, but improve the establishment and quality of the permanent grass cover practice.

Contact should be made with the county Farm Service Agency or Natural Resource Conserva?tion Service agency offices if you need management assistance or advisement.

FSA county offices will be conducting filed site inspections of CRP acreages over the course of the year to determine proper compliance by contract producers with these standards. Any failures to maintain CRP by prescribed plans can create severe payment reduction assessments or contract terminations.

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Bill Harmon is executive director of the Marion County FSA office.

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