Re: CRP Troubles
Your call as to what you do but my best guess and only a guess is that the CRP early out penalty probably won't be be waived in the 2012 bill. That's only based on the belief that sporting/conservation interests hold big sway over the farm bill and are probably going to try to hang onto something.
I don't know what your plans for it are but since for the purpose of commodity crop farming 18 acres doesn't scale a whole lot different than 8, it might be cheaper to rent one or more small, odd lot fields (at exorbitant current rates) than to buy it out.
Re: CRP Troubles
I would think it would be the same as buying a farm with an existing 10 year lease. Unless the lease contract specifies that it is terminated when sold, the old contract would stand.
Re: CRP Troubles
The thing that floors me about this is that the CRP wasn't mentioned until after the sale. In most cases, a lease or other encumbrance (like the ten-year-development agreement in our state's voluntary ag district law) longer than three years has to be noted somewhere in the chain of title. I guess CRP isn't one of them.
In a hobby farming instance, havng predictable payments on over half the land could be a real plus...conservation payments are a sure adn steady source of income. Since every acre isn't enrolled, that leaves a lot of land - adequare for most any hobby level ag activities - to do "farming" activities on, without disturbing the land covered in the agreement.
Instead of a "glass half-empty" situation, this one is more of a "glass half-full" one. I'd leave the CRP in place, start with the boys by getting my aerials from FSA this fall. Maybe blow them up in black and white, for a few bucks, or see if the tax office has cheap, large copies of the land map, or get the surveyor to give you an extra plat or two on plain paper.
Lay hands on a couple of good homesteading resource books, and start making a five-year plan for improving the land and making it ready for fully farming it.
For example, in year one, you secure a water source for your animals and your gardening efforts, because nothing happens without sufficient mositure. Maybe that is a line trenched from the old couple's well (cheap, but it may cost them a few $ in electricity), maybe a separate well with a solar pump on your own, with a storage tank.
In year four, you may want to build fencing around the CRP field, since it will be eligible for grazing freely the next year...or, you might do that earlier, if funds permit, since grazing is usually granted in drought years, and you may need it sooner. Check with the FSA folks...but, I don't think anything in the program prohibits you from fencing conserved fields.
No mention has been made of the distacen form the family home of the buyer of the land, but security in these times is not a given...livestock left unattended may not be there when you get back...nor will metal items. Until you live on a place, it isn't a very secure one, and then only as much as people can't predict when you may drive up on them there.
It is going to take way more than the $8000 (which this gentleman says he doesn't have lying around loose to buy out the CRP) to really utilize nealry twenty acres as a hobby farm, anyway. If you take a realistic approach, this is a multi-year project, with a gradually-growing need for the whole parcel. I'd start with what I have available to me, and work like H on that for now.
See A Lawyer
My recollection of local FSA notices is that when land in CRP is sold and the buyer doesn't pick up the contract,the payments must be returned in full by the previous enroller (which sounds like it is the church)..
"A Policy for Terminating All Land Under CRP-1
COC shall terminate all land under CRP-1 before its expiration date, if any of the following
participant loses control of or transfers all of the land under CRP-1 and there is no
You can check this out with an FSA office. Sounds like yours is a little biased, so maybe call another in your state. Also, you can ask a couple of ag real estate agents who have some experience. Also, maybe a land auctioneer.
In any event it sounds like you need some competent advice by someone qualified in the field before you sign anything.
Re: See A Lawyer
I considered thet chirch as the responsible party,too, Jim; but. I think that depends upon how long they held the property, or if they turned it around before signing the contract on behalf of the congregation. Someone signs accepting responsibility, and acknowledging the conservation obligation, I am sure.