FSA news on solar panels, organic certification and CRP participants

CRP participants must maintain approved cover on acreages enrolled in CRP and farm programs

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants are responsible for ensuring adequate, approved vegetative and practice cover is maintained to control erosion throughout the life of the contract after the practice has been established. Participants must also control undesirable vegetation, weeds (including noxious weeds), insects and rodents that may pose a threat to existing cover or adversely impact other landowners in the area.

All CRP maintenance activities, such as mowing, burning, disking and spraying, must be conducted outside the primary nesting or brood rearing season for wildlife, which for Ohio is March 1 through July 15. However, spot treatment of the acreage may be allowed during the primary nesting or brood rearing season if, left untreated, the weeds, insects or undesirable species would adversely impact the approved cover. In this instance, spot treatment is limited to the affected areas in the field and requires County Committee approval prior to beginning the spot treatment. The County Committee will consult with NRCS to determine if such activities are needed to maintain the approved cover.

Annual mowing of CRP for generic weed control, or for cosmetic purposes, is prohibited at all times.

Organic certification cost share program

The Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) provides cost share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products who are obtaining or renewing their certification under the National Organic Program (NOP). Certified operations may receive up to 75 percent of their certification costs not to exceed $750 per certification scope.

Eligible costs include application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.

Ineligible costs include equipment, materials, supplies, transitional certification fees, late fees and inspections necessary to address National Organic Program regulatory violations.

Producers and handlers may submit OCCSP applications to their FSA County office or they may apply through participating State Agencies, which in Ohio is:

Ohio Department of Agriculture
8995 East Main Street
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068

Attn: Lori Panda

P: (614) 466-8798

F: (614) 466-7754

Email: panda@agri.ohio.gov

The FSA OCCSP application form is available online. To learn more about organic certification cost share, contact the Brown or Clermont County FSA office.

Reporting solar panels constructed on cropland

Producers who have solar panels constructed on their farms should notify the local Farm Service Agency office. Any area that is no longer considered suitable as cropland (producing annual or perennial crops) should be designated in FSA’s records and aerial photography maps. When base acres on a farm are converted to a non-agricultural commercial or industrial use, the total base acres on the farm must be reduced accordingly. Non-cropland areas used for solar panels might impact payments calculated using base acres, such as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) annual rental payments.