JOHANNS REMINDS FARMERS TO SIGN UP FOR THE CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM FROM MARCH 27 TO APRIL 14
WASHINGTON, March 24, 2006 -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today reminded agricultural producers and landowners that a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up will begin on Monday, March 27 and continue through April 14, 2006. Johanns first announced the sign-up dates on Jan. 31, 2006.
"This sign-up underscores President Bush's commitment to enrolling the maximum amount of acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program," said Johanns. "I strongly encourage all eligible farmers to continue improving our soil, water, air and wildlife habitat resources by applying for CRP at local Farm Service Agency offices."
CRP participants voluntarily enroll highly erodible and other fragile cropland in CRP through long-term contracts of 10 to 15 years. On the enrolled land, participants plant grasses, trees and other vegetation. In exchange, participants receive annual rental payments and a payment of up to 50 percent of the cost of establishing conservation covers.
With a current enrollment of 36 million acres, CRP's cooperative conservation has produced a wealth of benefits for our nation, and is nearing the maximum allowable acreage of 39.2 million. The planted vegetation prevents 450 million tons of soil from eroding each year. By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP safeguards drinking water supplies for millions of Americans. Thousands of wildlife species are thriving in the 2 million acres of wetlands CRP has restored.
As in previous general sign-ups, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will evaluate eligible CRP offers with the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI), a ranking of the land's contribution to improving soil retention, water quality, wildlife habitat and air quality. FSA will determine the EBI cutoff after the sign-up ends by analyzing the EBI factors of all offers. Since the EBI cutoff used in previous sign-ups may be different for this sign-up, those who met previous EBI thresholds are not guaranteed a contract under this sign-up.
There is limited acreage available for enrollment. FSA encourages landowners to work with their local FSA office to maximize the environmental benefits of their CRP offers. During the last CRP general sign-up, held Aug. 30 to Sept. 24, 2004, enrollment offers were highly competitive. Of the 1.7 million acres offered, FSA selected 1.2 million acres that offered the greatest environmental benefits.
Offers accepted under this sign-up will become effective Oct. 1, 2006.
In addition to general sign-up, producers may enroll the most environmentally sensitive land in CRP continuous sign-up and other CRP initiatives. More information on these initiatives and the general sign-up is available at local FSA offices and on FSA's Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/cepd/crpinfo.htm