Deadline approaching for CRP sign-ups

News
May 24, 2013
by WLJ

—Producers have until June 14.

The deadline for signing up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is coming quickly. Farmers and ranchers have until June 14.

“As always, we expect strong competition to enroll acres into CRP, and we urge interested producers to maximize their environmental benefits and to make cost-effective offers,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“CRP is an important program for protecting environmentally sensitive lands from erosion and sedimentation, and for ensuring the sustainability of our groundwater, lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. Through the voluntary participation of our farmers and ranchers, CRP helps us to protect our natural resources, preserve wildlife habitat, and bring good paying jobs to rural America related to hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.”

CRP has a 27-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation’s natural resources through voluntary participation while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the U.S. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and develop wildlife habitat. In return, USDA provides participants with rental payments and costshare assistance. Currently, 27 million acres are enrolled in CRP through 700,000 contracts on 390,000 farms throughout the U.S., with enrollment in 49 states and Puerto Rico.

Vilsack also encouraged producers to look into CRP’s other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, non-competitive, sign-up basis. Sign-up for continuous CRP—including the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement Initiative, the Highly Erodible Land Initiative, the Grassland Restoration

Initiative, the Pollinator Habitat Initiative, and other related initiatives—began on May 13 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2013.

Offers for general sign-up CRP contracts are ranked according to an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) collects data for each of the EBI factors based on the relative environmental benefits for the land offered. FSA uses the following factors to assess the environmental benefits for the land offered:

• Wildlife habitat benefits resulting from covers on contract acreage

• Water quality benefits from reduced erosion, runoff and leaching

• On-farm benefits from reduced erosion

• Benefits that will likely endure beyond the contract period

• Air quality benefits from reduced wind erosion

• Cost

CRP soil rental rates for non-irrigated cropland were updated this year to better reflect location and market conditions. A nationwide cap was placed on the maximum amount that may be paid per acre for the general sign-up. Taken together, these steps help ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent in a fiscally responsible manner while producing the maximum environmental benefits for each dollar spent.

CRP is the largest USDA conservation program and continues to make major contributions to national efforts to improve water and air quality, prevent soil erosion, and protect the most sensitive areas, including those prone to flash flooding and runoff. At the same time, CRP has helped increase populations of pheasants, quail and ducks and is recognized as benefiting certain rare species like the sage grouse, the lesser prairie chicken and other grassland birds.

For more information on CRP and other FSA programs, visit a local FSA service center or go online at www.fsa.usda.gov. — WLJ

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