The sign-up period for farmers and ranchers to enroll eligible land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is set for March 14 through April 15, according to Daniel Robinson, executive director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Alabama.
"Over the past 25 years, CRP’s benefits have grown, thanks to many unexpected, but welcome improvements to our natural resources—cleaner water, improved air quality, better habitat for wildlife, viewing opportunities of that wildlife and, of course, a huge reduction in soil erosion," Robinson said.
CRP is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners. Through CRP, farmers and ranchers can receive annual rental payments (based on the agriculture rental value of the land) and up to 50 percent of the participant’s costs in establishing approved-conservation practices. Participants enroll in CRP contracts for 10 to 15 years.
Land currently not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this sign-up provided all eligibility requirements are met. Additionally, current CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall may make new contract offers. Contracts awarded under this sign-up are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1.
To help ensure interested farmers and ranchers are aware of the sign-up period, USDA has signed partnership agreements with several conservation and wildlife organizations that will all play an active role in USDA’s 2011 CRP outreach efforts.
FSA, which administers the CRP, will evaluate and rank eligible CRP offers using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) showing the environmental benefits to be gained from enrolling the land in CRP. The EBI consists of five environmental factors (wildlife, water, soil, air and enduring benefits) and cost.
Decisions on the EBI cut-off will be made after the sign-up ends and after analyzing the EBI data of all the offers. In addition to the general sign-up, CRP’s continuous sign-up program will be ongoing. Continuous acres represent the most environmentally-desirable and sensitive land.
For more information, contact Vickie Lane at (334) 279-3501 or visit this Alfa’s website (www. alfafarmers.org).
Darryal Ray is with Alfa.