U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for announcing that producers in South Dakota and other Prairie Pothole states can now sign up for the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP), a Thune-authored program, which became law as part of the 2018 farm bill. SHIPP provides a short-term option to plant cover crops on less productive agricultural lands to improve soil health while protecting farm income. Sign-up begins May 10, 2021, and runs through July 16.
“SHIPP is a common-sense program that gives producers a short-term option to conserve their marginal farmland while protecting farm income, and I’m pleased that USDA is beginning the sign-up for this year,” said Thune. “I’d like to thank Secretary Vilsack for working with me prior to this sign-up period to help provide flexibility for producers – those who know their land best – to determine the acres that are enrolled in the program. I encourage producers to reach out to their local Farm Service Agency office to learn more about this opportunity.”
“SHIPP is part of a suite of resources we have under the Conservation Reserve Program and part of a much larger effort across USDA to invest in, support, and promote climate-smart agricultural practices to create a win-win for both the environment and our farmers,” said Secretary Vilsack. “We’re excited to remove unnecessary hurdles from the previous sign-up and offer this streamlined pilot program for a second year, and we’re grateful to U.S. Senator John Thune and others who helped create this new option for producers.”
“As a family rancher, who was born and raised on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, I’m excited to be part of improving the implementation of this pilot conservation program designed by Senator Thune to benefit farmers, sportsmen and the environment,” said Zach Ducheneaux, administrator for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). “SHIPP pays farmers to take their most unprofitable land out of annual crop production, while at the same time improving soil health, providing wildlife habitat and supporting livestock producers by allowing appropriate haying and grazing.”
Improvements to SHIPP include:
- Boosting rental rates: A change to the rental rate calculation method to use a rate equivalent to 50 percent of the county average rental rate for every offer in the county, regardless of the soil productivity in the offer. This removes the current practice of adjusting the rate by soil productivity factors, which may further reduce the soil rental rate.
- Changes to offer selection for producers: Producers can now self-certify that the acres they want to offer are less productive or prone to drought or flood damage. Additionally, they can now use field boundaries and straight lines to delineate the offers. This is a change to the previous policy, which required using soil map unit boundaries and the associated soil productivity values, which created difficulty for producers by generating unusual and impractical sizes and shapes of land.