Leasing and Fallowing Program FAQs
1) What is the minimum acreage size that I can enroll in the program?
In response to interest from small acreage irrigators, the District now allows lease applicants to enroll a minimum of one acre of actively irrigated land in the program. The District and our partners have agreed to a commitment to enroll 3,200 acres in the EWLP in 2022. Additionally, due to extreme drought, anticipated water shortages and Rio Grande Compact debits, the MRGCD has received $15 million from the State of New Mexico for an Emergency Fallowing (EF) Program through 2025. With the funding and administrative requirements of the two programs, only Full Season Lease (FSL) options will be offered in 2022. Enrollment packets will be reviewed by MRGCD staff on a first-come-first-serve basis, however, interested participants will be enrolled only where operationally feasible, and when consistent with program budget limitations and objectives. Examples of program objectives include but are not limited to prioritizing enrollment of land(s) that are:
Additional acres may be enrolled depending on hydrological conditions and expected water yield.
2) When can I enroll in the leasing program?
Full Season Lease options for the 2022 EF-EWLP enrollment period open January 19, 2022. Enrollment closes on March 25th, 2022. Irrigators who successfully enroll in the EF-EWLP will suspend all irrigation of enrolled acreage between April 1st and October 31st of 2022.
3) Important Criteria for Enrollment In order to enroll, irrigators must meet the following requirements;
1. Be an irrigator within the MRGCD’s service area.
2. Be willing and able to enroll a minimum of 1 acre. Due to delivery constraints related to the Corrales Siphon this requirement is waived for irrigators in Corrales for 2022.
3. Be in good standing with the District and be up to date with all water service charges.
4. Lands cannot be on the MRGCD Water Bank at the same time they are enrolled in this program.
5. If the land enrolled is currently under a written or verbal agricultural lease, the District requires that the Agreement be between the Lessee and the District.
6. Lands being enrolled must have a record of being irrigated within the last 5 years.
4) How does this program benefit the District and irrigators?
When water supply is not equal to or above anticipated annual demand, the District needs increased flexibility to scale back delivery, balance out obligations to our irrigators, the Rio Grande Compact, and the 2016 Biological Opinion. The EF-EWLP allows the District to compensate willing irrigators to forego delivery of water, and in exchange provides the District with more operational flexibility and resilience. Irrigators that enroll in the program benefit by gaining a low risk income stream for their farm operation, while irrigators who do not enroll have less regional agricultural water demand to contend with.
5) How will I be paid by the District once I enroll?
The District will pay you 60% of the total lease agreement amount following inspection of your enrolled field(s) by an MRGCD staff member. Initial inspections should occur on or around April 1st. You will receive 40% of the total lease agreement once the District has inspected and approved the enrolled acreage at the end of the season. Full payment should be expected on or around November 14, 2022.
6) How much will the District pay for every acre I enroll?
EF-EWLP-Full Season Lease Payment – The District and our partners will pay approved applicants $425/enrolled acre of land for the 2022 FLS term. The District has established an enrollment cap of 14,000 acres for the 2022 season.
7) How will the District enforce compliance with irrigators who enroll in the Program?
Once the enrollment deadline is reached for each of the lease, the District will compile a master list of the acres and respective owners/lessees that are signed up for the 2022 EF-EWLP. ISO’s overseeing water delivery for enrolled lands will be notified of the specific acreage that has been enrolled in their service area. If an ISO finds a field that appears to be irrigated while enrolled in the EF-EWLP, they will contact the owner and then the Conservation Program regarding the violation. Review of the incident by the District may result in termination of the Agreement, in which case the Irrigator will be obligated to return in full to MRGCD any payment already made for the use of water while enrolled in the 2022 EF-EWLP.
8) If I am a farmer leasing land can I enroll in the EF-EWLP?
Yes. Land that is currently under a verbal or written lease can be enrolled in the EF-EWLP as long as the owner of the leased land signs and dates the Contract. The land being put forth for enrollment must still meet all of the program requirements. In an effort to protect the vital agricultural land lease market in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, the District encourages that the contract to enroll leased land be between the current Lessee of that land and the District. However, the Lessor (owner) of the land must sign off on both the Participant Interest Form, as well as the Contract.
9) Can I enroll the same land(s) in the EF-EWLP for consecutive years?
The District is waiving the re-enrollment restriction for participants of the 2020 and 2021 EWLP due to the extreme drought conditions. If you enrolled land in the EWLP in 2020 or 2021, that same land IS ELIGIBLE for enrollment in the EF-EWLP in 2022.