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Conservation Reserve starts March 14

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Voluntary private-land conservation program helps farmers, ranchers

By The Staff

Eligible persons can begin offering land under the general Conservation Reserve Program on March 14, announced John W. McCauley State Executive Director. Sign-ups will continue through April 15.
The Conservation Reserve Program is the largest voluntary private-land conservation program. It helps farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural producers use their environmentally sensitive land for conservation purposes.
CRP assists in creating new wildlife habitat, enhancing water, soil, and air quality through a variety of covers that can be established on the offered land.
In return for offering the land, the Farm Service Agency provides participants rental payments, cost share and technical assistance, and does so on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation.
This is the second consecutive year there has been a general CRP sign up. This year’s sign-up coincides with the celebration marking 25 years of the CRP program. During this time, CRP has protected millions of acres from erosion while also increasing wildlife numbers.
Eligible participants can sign up new land into this program if eligibility requirements have been met. At the time of sign-up, participants should be prepared to identify the specific acreage they want to offer.
If the land is owned by more than one person, all owners must agree to enroll the land prior to the end of sign up. Contracts awarded under this signup are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1, 2011.
Following sign-up, all offers for CRP will be evaluated and ranked using an Environmental Benefits Index for the environmental benefits to be gained from enrolling the land in CRP.
The EBI consists of five environmental factors such as wildlife, water, soil, air, and enduring benefits and a cost factor. Decisions on the EBI cutoff will be made after the sign-up ends and after analyzing the EBI data of all the offers
Those who would have met previous sign-up EBI thresholds are not guaranteed a contract under this sign up. In addition to the general sign-up, CRP’s continuous sign-up program will be ongoing.
Acreage enrolled into the Continuous CRP represent the most environmentally desirable and sensitive land.
For more information on the general Conservation Reserve Program sign up, please contact your local county FSA office or access the website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov.