The Mower County Soil & Water Conservation District is encouraging agriculture land owners to opt into the Minnesota Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
"With increased payment rates and this season’s abnormally high rainfall, Mower County landowners are encouraged to apply for turning marginal cropland into permanent prairie and wetlands," read a statement from the SWCD.
MN CREP applications, which were on hold for nine months, need to be submitted by Aug. 25 through Mower SWCD.
CREP is a state-federal program that allows landowners to turn marginal cropland into native prairie or wetlands. Landowners enroll their land for 14-15 years and receive payments based on the current CRP rental rates and RIM rates. Landowners keep ownership of the land, including control to access the land.
Over the past two years of the program, Mower County SWCD has helped move 125 acres in the Cedar River watershed into permanent conservation through MN CREP. Contracts for another 223 acres are nearing completion for land in Mower County’s Cedar and Root River watersheds.
“Low crop prices and unusually high amounts of rain might have farmers looking at their fields differently,” said James Fett, a Mower SWCD watershed technician overseeing the local program. “MN CREP gives them an opportunity to retire problematic acres from production and turn them into excellent wildlife habitat benefiting water quality.”
MN CREP payment rates have increased to at least $7,000 to $8,000 per acre. It also is not known yet when the next MN CREP application period will open after August, making the next month an ideal time to apply for the program.
MN CREP pays 100 percent of the costs for restoring cropland to wetlands and prairie. A perpetual easement is then created in which landowners retain private ownership of enrolled acres. Public hunting never will be allowed on MN CREP land unless allowed by the private landowner.
Mower County landowners interested in MN CREP should contact Fett at (507) 434-2603, Ext. 5, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.