Beginning in January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to offer an early termination opportunity for certain Conservation Reserve Program contracts. This will make it easier to transfer property to the next generation of farmers. According to the Tenure, Ownership and Transition of Agricultural Land survey, which was conducted in 2014, farmers are expected to transfer 93 million acres to new ownership during 2015-2019.

The eligible land for this program is among the least environmentally sensitive land that is part of the Conservation Reserve Program. Access to land is the biggest obstacle for beginning farmers. The Land Tenure Advisory subcommittee was asked to find ways to modify programs, regulations, and policies to address the challenges that beginning farmers are facing when it comes to accessing land.

When a Conservation Reserve Program contract is terminated early, the landowner would normally be required to repay all previous payments plus interest. This new policy, however, waives this repayment if the land is transferred to a beginning farmer through a sale or lease with an option to buy.

Some land that is terminated early from the Conservation Reserve Program will be eligible for priority enrollment consideration into the Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands, the Conservation Stewardship Program, or the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, as determined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Further information about the early termination opportunity will be available on January 9th, 2017.

To read more about this program, go to https://www.fsa.usda.gov/news-room/news-releases/2016/nr_20161229_rel_216

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