John Whitaker, state executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa, announced on June 4 that 99,684 acres under the recently completed general Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, signup have been accepted. That's how many acres in Iowa will be accepted into the CRP. Nationally, it's 3.9 million acres.
USDA accepted 3.9 million acres that were offered by landowners under the 43rd CRP general sign-up period in the spring of 2012 nationwide, he notes. During the extended five-week signup, USDA received nearly 48,000 offers on more than 4.5 million acres of land. The CRP program preserves and enhances environmentally sensitive lands by seeding it down to grass or trees, while providing payments to property owners for removing the land from row crop production.
"We are pleased to find out that during this 43rd general sign-up, Iowa had 3,389 offers which totaled 104,868 acres," he says. "In Iowa, 95% of the acres offered were accepted for a total sign-up enrollment of 99,684 acres."
CRP helps farmers use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits
CRP is a voluntary program that helps agricultural producers use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. Plant cover established on the acreage accepted into the CRP will reduce nutrient and sediment runoff in our nation's rivers and streams. This reduces soil erosion that may otherwise contribute to poor air and water quality and provide valuable habitat for wildlife. The CRP has restored more than 2 million acres of wetlands and associated buffers and reduced soil erosion by more than 400 million tons per year.
"This program continues to be our nation's most successful voluntary conservation effort," adds Whitaker. "It protects our land, water and air while also providing important wildlife benefits. The number of offers from private landowners shows their commitment to conservation and the environment."
How USDA decides which offers to select for entry into CRP program
USDA selected offers for enrollment based on an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) comprised of five environmental factors plus cost. The five environmental factors are: (1) wildlife enhancement, (2) water quality, (3) soil erosion, (4) enduring benefits and (5) air quality.
USDA implemented a number of measures including using additional EBI point incentives for producers to submit cost effective offers and producer outreach activities to encourage competitive offers on the most environmentally sensitive lands. These measures will maintain the high environmental benefits while decreasing the historic cost of the program.
For more information about the CRP and other programs administered by FSA, contact your local FSA office or go to the website www.fsa.usda.gov.