Grassland Reserve Program

To assist landowners and others in restoring and protecting eligible grassland, rangeland, pastureland and certain other lands through rental agreements and easements.



Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - Local Service Centers can be found in the blue pages of the local telephone directory under the heading USDA Service Center or through the office locator assistance on the NRCS website found at www.nrcs.usda.gov.


Program Accomplishments

Not available at this time.

Uses and Use Restrictions

GRP easements and rental agreements are designed for working agricultural lands.

All participants are subject to the Adjusted Gross Income Provision set forth in 7 CFR Part 1400.

This limitation provides that individuals and entities that have an average adjusted gross income exceeding $2.5 million for the three tax years immediately preceding the year the contract is approved are not eligible to receive program benefits, unless 75 percent of the adjusted gross income is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry operations.

Easements and rental agreements will (1) permit grazing on the land in a manner that is consistent with maintaining the viability of the native and natural grass, shrub, forest, and wildlife species adapted to the locality; (2) permit haying, mowing, or harvesting for seed production, except during the nesting and brood-rearing seasons for birds in the area that are in significant decline; (3) allow for fire rehabilitation and construction of firebreaks, fences, watering facilities and practices that protect and restore the grasslands functions and values; and (4) prohibit the production of row crops, fruit trees, vineyards, or any other agricultural commodities or activity that requires disturbance of the soil surface.

Both easements and rental agreements will require that the land is managed to maintain the viability of the plant community as described in the conservation plan.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

GRP is available on privately owned lands.

Eligible land includes grassland, land that contains forbs, or shrubs (including rangeland and pasture land; or land that is located in an area that has historically been dominated by grassland, forbs, and shrubs; and has potential to provide habitat for animal or plant populations of significant ecological value.

Incidental lands, in conjunction with eligible land, may also be considered for enrollment to allow for the efficient administration of an easement or rental agreement.

Generally, forty acres is the minimum acreage that will be accepted unless USDA makes a determination that enrollment of a smaller parcel meets the purposes of the program and grants a waiver.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Only landowners may submit applications for easements; landowners and others who have general control of the acreage may submit applications for rental agreements.

Credentials/Documentation

None.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Any owner or operator or tenant meeting eligibility criteria may submit an application for participation.

Applications are accepted in local USDA service centers at any time.

USDA will establish criteria to evaluate and rank applications for easement and rental agreement enrollment.

Ranking criteria will emphasize support for high quality grasslands and shrublands; grazing operations; and plant and animal biodiversity; under threat of conversion.

Individual project selection will be made by State level USDA officials.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.

12372.

Application Procedures

Applications are accepted in local USDA service centers at any time. Applicants are required to provide general information about the location of the project, contact information for the applicant, and designate the type of enrollment desired by the applicant (i.e. permanent or 30-year easement, 10-year, 15-year, 20-year or 30-year rental agreement). Applications can be obtained through local USDA service centers or the website of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Office. See www.nrcs.usda.gov. Select Programs from the menu, then select Grassland Reserve Program.

Award Procedures

None.

Deadlines

No application deadline. Applications are accepted through a continuous signup process. Individual State USDA offices of the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service Office may establish funding cut off periods.

Authorization

16 U.S.C. 3838n through 3838q.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Within a Federal fiscal year (October 1 September 30) based on funding availability.

Appeals

Applicants or participants may appeal decisions regarding this program in accordance with 7 CFR Part 614 and Parts 11 and 780.

Renewals

None.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

None.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Easement duration is either perpetual, 30-years, or the maximum duration permitted by State law. Financial assistance for easement acquisition is provided at closing. For rental agreements, payments are made annually on the agreement anniversary date of USDA approval. For both easements and rental agreements, if restoration activities are required, financial assistance for such activities is provided when required practices are established. Technical assistance is available for the length of the easement or rental agreement.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

Not applicable.

Audits

Not applicable.

Records

Not applicable.

Financial Information

Account Identification

12-1004-0-1-302.

Obigations

(Direct Payments) FY 07 $12,671,100; FY 08 $0; and FY 09 est not reported. (Salaries and Expenses) FY 07 $3,236,000; FY 08 $0; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

In FY 2003 USDA had available approximately $52,000,000 in financial assistance to allocate nationwide. The average estimated cost per acre for easement acquisition was approximately $382. The average estimated cost per acre for rental agreements was $134 per acre. In FY 2004 USDA has available approximately $54,000,000 in financial assistance.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

None.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Local Service Centers can be found in the blue pages of the local telephone directory under the heading USDA Service Center or through the office locator assistance on the NRCS website found at www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Headquarters Office

Thomas Christensen, Deputy Chief for Natural Resources Conservation Programs, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 2890, Washington, DC 20013. Telephone: (202) 720-4527. Use the same number for FTS; Floyd Wood, National Grassland Reserve Program Manager, NRCS, (202) 720-0242 or Jim Williams, National Grassland Reserve Program Manager, FSA, (202) 720- 9562.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

None.



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