Friday, February 17, 2023

USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program Signup for 2023


WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2023 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that agricultural producers and private landowners can begin applying for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General signup starting February 27 through April 7, 2023. CRP is a cornerstone voluntary conservation program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a key tool in the Biden-Harris administration’s effort to address climate change and help agricultural communities invest in the long-term well-being of their land and natural resources.  

“The Conservation Reserve Program is one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the United States, offering a range of conservation options to farmers, ranchers and landowners,” Vilsack said. “CRP has and continues to be a great fit for farmers with less productive or marginal cropland, helping them re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and support wildlife habitat. Under this administration, we have made several updates to the program to increase producer interest and enrollment, strengthen the climate benefits of the program and help ensure underserved producers can find a pathway to entry into CRP.”  

Producers and landowners enrolled more than 5 million acres into CRP through signups in 2022, building on the acceptance of more than 3.1 million acres in the largest Grassland CRP signup in history. There are currently 23 million acres enrolled in CRP, with 1.9 million set to expire this year. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is aiming to reach the 27-million-acre cap statutorily set for fiscal year 2023.  

General CRP 

General CRP helps producers and landowners establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Additionally, General CRP includes a Climate-Smart Practice Incentive to help increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by helping producers and landowners establish trees and permanent grasses, enhance wildlife habitat, and restore wetlands.  

Continuous CRP 

Under Continuous CRP, producers and landowners can enroll in CRP throughout the year. Offers are automatically accepted provided the producer and land meet the eligibility requirements and the enrollment levels do not exceed the statutory cap. The Climate-Smart Practice Incentive is also available in the Continuous signup.  

FSA offers several additional enrollment opportunities within Continuous CRP, including the Clean Lakes Estuaries and Rivers Initiative (CLEAR30), the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) Initiative, the Farmable Wetlands Program (FWP), and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). The CLEAR30 Initiative, which was originally piloted in twelve states in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay watershed, has been expanded nationwide, allowing producers and landowners to enroll in 30-year CRP contracts for water quality practices. Under this administration, FSA also moved SAFE practices back to the Continuous CRP signup, giving producers and landowners more opportunities to participate in the initiative. Through the FWP, producers and landowners can enroll land in CRP as part of their efforts to restore previously farmed wetlands and wetland buffers, to improve both vegetation and water flow.  

This administration has also made significant improvements to CREP, which leverages federal and non-federal funds to target specific State, regional or nationally significant conservation concerns. Specifically, USDA made significant improvements to CREP to reduce barriers and make the program more accessible to a broad range of producers and new types of partners. These updates included flexibility for partners to provide matching funds in the form of cash, in-kind contributions, or technical assistance, along with an investment in additional staff to work directly with partners. Through CREP, for the first time ever, three Tribal Nations are now partnering with USDA to help conserve, maintain, and improve grassland productivity, reduce soil erosion, and enhance wildlife habitat.  

Grassland CRP 

FSA will announce the dates for Grassland CRP signup in the coming weeks. Grassland CRP is a working lands program, helping landowners and operators protect grassland, including rangeland and pastureland and certain other lands, while maintaining the areas as working grazing lands. Protecting grasslands contributes positively to the economy of many regions, provides biodiversity of plant and animal populations, and provides important carbon sequestration benefits to deliver lasting climate outcomes.   

How to Sign Up 

Landowners and producers interested in CRP should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more or to apply for the program before their deadlines.  

Producers with expiring CRP acres can use the Transition Incentives Program (TIP), which incentivizes producers who sell or enter a long-term lease with a beginning, veteran, or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher who plans to sustainably farm or ranch the land. 

More Information 

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits.   

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Over-the-counter livestock antibiotics will require prescription after June 11



Texas A&M AgriLife logo and address




AgriLife Extension experts answer frequently asked questions to prepare livestock owners

By Kay Ledbetter

Don’t wait. Get to know your local veterinarian now and establish a veterinarian-client-patient relationship if you expect to treat livestock in the future, as over-the-counter livestock antibiotics will soon require a prescription.

a single cow runs down a dirt road with a man in a Ranger following behind. These animals will need vet-led antibiotic prescriptions soon.
Livestock owners who typically treat their own animals with over-the-counter antibiotics need to be aware of rule changes that begin June. 11. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Courtney Sacco)

That is the advice of a team of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts trying to help livestock owners who are used to going to the local feed store to buy some of their antibiotics and administer treatment themselves.

All of that will change on June 11, when these medically important antimicrobial drugs will require veterinary oversight.

The following experts answer some frequently asked questions to let livestock owners know what to expect:

— Tom Hairgrove, DVM, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension cattle veterinary specialist in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Animal Science, Bryan-College Station.

— Joe Paschal, Ph.D., former AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, now representing industry as the executive vice president of the American Brahman Breeders Association, Corpus Christi.

— Billy Zanolini, Ph.D., assistant professor and 4-H and youth development specialist, Bryan-College Station.

What is the new rule?

The Food and Drug Administration recommends manufacturers of medically important antimicrobial drugs that continue to be available over the counter and are approved for use in animals, both companion and food-producing, regardless of delivery mechanism, to voluntarily bring these products under veterinary oversight or prescription marketing status.

By June 11, labels of the remaining over-the-counter antibiotics for livestock use will be required to read: “Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian,” and the purchaser must have a prescription or drug order to buy it.

How does this differ from the Veterinary Feed Directive and why are the two confused?

Over-the-counter antibiotics used in animal feed were moved to Veterinary Feed Directive, VFD, in 2017, allowing closer veterinarian oversight of antimicrobial use in animal feeds. All over-the-counter antibiotics placed in the drinking water were moved to prescription status at the same time. This new rule concerns the few antibiotics that remained available over the counter in the form of injectables, intramammary tubes and boluses.

What does medically important mean?

Medically important drugs are essential to human medicine and also used to treat animals.

What antibiotics does this affect?

Prescription-only items will include injectable tylosin, injectable and intramammary penicillin, injectable and oral oxytetracycline, sulfadimethoxine and sulfamethazine, gentamicin, cephapirin and cephapirin benzathine intramammary tubes. 

How and where can these items be purchased after the rule goes into effect?

Individuals with veterinary-client-patient relationships, VCPR, may purchase antibiotics directly from their veterinarian or from a distributor with the vet’s prescription.

What constitutes a VCPR?

Three requirements must be met:

(1) The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the animal and the need for medical treatment, and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions.

(2) The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the animal’s medical condition. This means that the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal by examining the animal or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal is kept.

(3) The veterinarian is readily available or has arranged emergency coverage and follow-up evaluation in the event of adverse reactions or the failure of the treatment regimen.

What’s your advice to livestock owners without a VCPR?

Producers who already have a VCPR in place and purchase their animal health products through their veterinary office or through other distributors under an existing prescription system will likely notice little change. However, this may have significant impacts on how the livestock owners can access antibiotic therapy for their animals, so contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible.

Why shouldn’t I go ahead and stock up on antibiotics now?

Do not stock up on these products to avoid needing a prescription once this change takes effect. Animal health products are expensive, have expiration dates and are sensitive to storage time and conditions. 

Are there any specific instructions that should be given to livestock show exhibitors?

Livestock exhibitors, like all producers in animal agriculture, are responsible for understanding animal treatment regulations. For junior shows, students complete the “Quality Counts” quality-assurance curriculum that stresses the importance of VCPR.

What health/medical items can livestock owners continue to purchase over the counter?

Most vaccines, dewormers, injectable and oral nutritional supplements, ionophores, pro/prebiotics and topical nonantibiotic treatments will not require a veterinary prescription. However, there are some exceptions. Always read the label.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Texas Farm, Ranch and Wildlife Expo is Feb 21-22 in Abilene

Includes Big Country agribusiness event, Agriculture Legacy Luncheon

By Susan Himes,

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Taylor County and the Abilene Chamber of Commerce will cohost the 2023 Texas Farm, Ranch and Wildlife Expo, the region’s longest-running farm and agribusiness show Feb. 21-22 in Abilene.

A cotton and crop conference are among the Texas Farm, Ranch and Wildlife Expo events offered Feb. 21-22. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Laura McKenzie)

The 24th annual event will be held at the Taylor Telecom Arena at 1700 Highway 36. Lawrence Hall-Abilene is the presenting sponsor.

The event will be held from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Feb. 21 and from 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on Feb. 22.

There is no cost to attend and there will be over 150 vendor and educational booths.

The focus Feb. 21 will be crops and commodities. Cattle, ranch and wildlife will be highlighted Feb. 22.

Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units are offered. On Feb. 21, a total of seven CEUs are available: three general, three integrated pest management and one laws and regulations.

Feb. 22 will offer 10 CEUs — five general, three integrated pest management and two laws and regulations.

“Our goal is to meet the needs of as many people in agriculture as possible and, in addition to our mainstream agriculture topics,” said Steve Estes, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Taylor County. “This year we’ve expanded to include topics for veterans, those involved in agricultural land real estate, and people who may be new to agriculture or thinking about becoming involved.”

Texas Real Estate Commission continuing education units are also available, four on Feb. 21 and three on Feb. 22.

Visit the AgriLife Extension office in Taylor County website for a complete schedule of events, demonstrations and social activities.

Feb. 21, Crop and Commodity Day

The first day of the Expo will feature the following:

  • Cotton and Crops Conference.
  • Town and Country Women’s Fair.
  • Trade Show Opens; Ribbon Cutting at Lawrence Hall Abilene Booth.
  • Rolling Plains Cotton Growers Annual Meeting.
  • Property Tax Valuations.
  • Hemp Production Update.
  • Pig Brig Demo.
  • Stock Pond Management.
  • Intellectual Property Basics for Rural America.

Feb. 22, Cattle, Ranch and Wildlife Day

The first Agriculture Legacy Luncheon, to honor the Farm Family of the Year, will be part of the Feb. 22 event activities. The luncheon will feature Joe Leathers, general manager of 6666 Ranch, Guthrie, and celebrity cowboy chef Mike Newton, Stephenville.

The Feb. 22 topics are:

Register for Free Webinars on Farm and Ranch Tax Strategies and Schedule F


Filing taxes for an agricultural operation can be challenging, and many producers may not have the funds to hire accountants or tax professionals to assist. Join USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) for two free webinars:

Wednesday, February 22, 3:00 pm Eastern: Farm and Ranch Tax Strategies 2023. 

There is a strategy to managing your taxes and now is the time to start planning.  Join USDA and Bob Rhea, University of Illinois Tax School, to learn about tax management options for 2023.   

Register here.  

Wednesday, March 22, 3:00 pm Eastern: Schedule F (Profit or Loss From Farming).

The Schedule F is used to report taxable income earned from farming, ranching, and agricultural activities.  Join USDA and Guido van der Hoeven, President, Land Grant University Tax Education Foundation, Inc. (LGUTEF), for a line-by-line review of this tax form.   

Register here