By Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service
Accessing land is one of the greatest obstacles many prospective farmers and ranchers in Iowa face, and new research suggests some are missing out on a program that could help.
The Conservation Reserve Program - Transition Incentives Program (CRP-TIP) allows two years of extra payments for landowners enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program if they rent land to a farmer who is just beginning, socially disadvantaged or a veteran.
Anna Johnson, a policy program associate at the Center for Rural Affairs, says in Iowa, the report uncovered lower participation than expected and sporadic implementation.
"Iowa had about 40 contracts and it was in 17 counties of our 99 counties,” she relates. “There's definitely more opportunity for many areas of Iowa to participate more in this program."
In the report, "Pathways to Land Access," Johnson and other researchers spoke with state and county Farm Service Agency officials, as well as folks participating in CRP-TIP.
She says they pinpointed some of the factors affecting use of the program – including a lack of awareness about it, the overall farm economy and a lack of farmer and landowner relationships.
Among counties that have higher participation rates, Johnson says the Farm Service Agency staff does additional outreach, which helps link prospective farmers and landowners.
"Encouraging landowners and farmers to reach out and make connections with each other, and to find out if they have similar goals for farming and for their land, is probably one of the biggest hurdles for participation in this program," she states.
Johnson hopes the report will help get the word out about the program so more Iowa farmers and landowners can see if it's a good fit for their needs.