Maine land is very fertile but putting it in a CRP soil bank may be needed.That’s where Uncle Sam’s USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) comes in.
The soil bank means for ten years, you sign on with the USDA’s Farm Services Agency to seed the land to put in to the CRP program with special conservation grass mix.
Special blends of grasses designed to hold the soil in place, to regenerate with minerals and nutrients the land set aside, put in the CRP soil bank. There is a penalty if you take it out early. But you can enjoy an annual check from the USDA to help off set the property taxes. And get a good feeling knowing the land is resting, recharging and kept a farm.
If Maine farms continue to be broken up or merged in to fewer but industrial sized operations, the small entry level farmer is going to have a more and more difficult time taking to the plow. Manning the seeder, cultivators and hoes and eventual harvest operation on Maine farms.
Here is more information on the CRP conservation Reserve Program. The whole “give the land a rest, keep the farm intact” objective is rooted in legislation of the Soil Bank Act of 1956.
Taking care of the soil that produces the food we grow, raise on it is critical in a country that never ever wants to become dependent on another world power to provide what we put on our family tables.
The USDA CRP Soil Conservation Resource Program addresses that concern. It also helps farmers when operations are stalled from economic or health set backs to put the land on lay away, stand by receiving a smaller compensation. Until it returns to production with that farmer or rental to another one down the road looking for more ground to plant.
How much is paid for CRP compensation is worked out between the Maine land owner and USDA. And extra points are awarded for a variety of criteria to arrive at that level of annual payment. Existing CRP land can be kept in the program after the ten years but it may mean checking to make sure the conservation grasses on the land are all the right kind, with no species or variety missing in the vegetation. Or that what was planted ten years ago, is still in the mix of what is growing on the land for a ground cover.
If there is something lacking or that did not take in the original planting, the USDA office has a no-soil tilling grass seed sower for rent at $10 an acre. The Maine land owner can buy his grass seed, do the planting and keep the ground in the soil bank with positive returns for when it does return to active cultivation.