USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) will hold a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up from March 14 through April 15, 2011.
CRP is a voluntary program that helps agricultural producers use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to control soil erosion, improve water and air quality and develop wildlife habitat. In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 to 15 years. Accepted contracts for sign-up 41will begin on Oct. 1, 2011.
FSA administers CRP, while other USDA agencies and partners provide technical support. More detailed information on CRP is available in the FSA fact sheet "Conservation Reserve Program."
Submitting CRP Offers
Land that is not currently enrolled in CRP may be offered for enrollment during CRP sign-up 41. In addition, CRP participants with contracts expiring on Sept. 30, 2011, may submit offers.
To submit CRP offers, producers must visit their local FSA office. FSA will accept offers only during the sign-up period (March 14 through April 15, 2011). To find your local FSA office, visit the USDA's website at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app
To be eligible for CRP enrollment, a producer must have owned or operated the land for at least 12 months prior to the end of the CRP sign-up period, unless:
- new owner acquired the land due to the previous owner's death;
- ownership change occurred due to foreclosure where the owner exercised a timely right of redemption in accordance with state law or;
- circumstance of the acquisition present adequate assurance to FSA that the new owner did not acquire the land for the purpose of placing it in CRP.
To be eligible for placement in general sign-up CRP, land must be cropland (including field margins) that is planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity four of the six crop years from 2002 to 2007, and be physically and legally capable of being planted (no planting restrictions due to an easement or other legally binding instrument) in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity. Alfalfa or other multiyear grasses and legumes grown in a rotation not to exceed 12 years may be eligible for this year.
Additional Cropland Requirements
In addition to the eligible land requirements, for general sign-up, cropland must meet one of the following criteria:
- a weighted average erosion index of eight or higher;
- located in a national or state CRP conservation priority area.
FSA provides CRP sign-up 41 participants with annual rental payments, including certain incentive payments and cost-share assistance:
- In return for establishing long-term, resource conserving covers, FSA provides rental payments to participants. FSA bases rental rates on the relative productivity of the soils within each county and the average dryland cash rent or cash-rent equivalent. County office staff working with the producer will calculate the maximum CRP rental rate for each offer prior to enrollment. Producers may offer land below the rate to increase the likelihood that FSA will accept their offer.
- FSA provides cost-share assistance to participants who establish approved cover on eligible cropland. The cost-share assistance cannot exceed 50 percent of the participant's costs to establish approved practices.
Ranking CRP Offers
FSA will rank offers for CRP sign-up 41 according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). FSA collects data (primarily based on location, soils information and selected conservation practice) and determines the environmental indices for the land offered.
FSA ranks each eligible offer in comparison to all other offers and selects from that ranking. After the sign-up ends, the Secretary will decide where to make the EBI cutoff. Those who have met previous sign-up EBI thresholds are not guaranteed a contract under this sign-up. Producers may consult with local FSA and NRCS staff on how to maximize EBI points and increase the likelihood that their offer will be accepted.
More information on EBI for CRP sign-up 41 is available by reading the FSA fact sheet, "Conservation Reserve Program Sign-up 41, Environmental Benefits Index."
CRP Continuous Sign-up
In addition to CRP sign-up 41, producers at any time can participate in CRP continuous sign-up, in which producers can enroll the most environmentally sensitive land.
More information on CRP continuous sign-up is available in the FSA fact sheet "Conservation Reserve Program Continuous Sign-up."
For More Information
For more information on CRP, contact a local FSA office, or visit FSA's website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp
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