U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Bruce Nelson announced that the sign-up deadline for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has been extended to April 13, 2012.
"Due to strong interest in CRP, the decision was made to extend CRP sign-up 43 for an additional week. I encourage all eligible farmers and ranchers to take advantage of this opportunity to participate in CRP,” said Nelson. "Whether new enrollees or re-enrolling existing CRP contracts, producers who sign up for CRP help to conserve land and improve our soil, water, air and wildlife habitat resources."
After the CRP general sign-up ends on April 13, FSA will evaluate offers based on cost and the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). The EBI takes into consideration variables such as wildlife habitat, water quality protection, soil erosion reduction, air quality protection and other enduring benefits. Accepted offers will become effective Oct. 1, 2012.
CRP is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. 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 cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years. Producers with expiring contracts and producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.
CRP has a 25-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 United States. Currently, about 30 million acres are enrolled in CRP.
CRP continues to make major contributions to national efforts to improve water and air quality, prevent soil erosion by protecting the most sensitive areas including those prone to flash flooding and runoff. At the same time, CRP has helped increase populations of pheasants, quail, ducks, and other rare species, like the sage grouse, the lesser prairie chicken, and others. Highlights of CRP include:
- CRP has restored more than 2 million acres of wetlands and two million acres of riparian buffers;
- Each year, CRP keeps more than 600 million pounds of nitrogen and more than 100 million pounds of phosphorous from flowing into our nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes.
- CRP provides $1.8 billion annually to landowners—dollars that make their way into local economies, supporting small businesses and creating jobs.
- CRP is the largest private lands carbon sequestration program in the country. By placing vulnerable cropland into conservation, CRP sequesters carbon in plants and soil, and reduces both fuel and fertilizer usage. In 2010, CRP resulted in carbon sequestration equal to taking almost 10 million cars off the road.
In 2011, USDA enrolled a record number of acres of private working lands in conservation programs, working with more than 500,000 farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and prevent soil erosion. Moreover, the Obama Administration, with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, has worked tirelessly to strengthen rural America, implement the Farm Bill, maintain a strong farm safety net, and create opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its most productive periods in American history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of our producers.
Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA service center or visit FSA’s website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp for additional information regarding CRP.