The next general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program will begin on Monday, March 14 and continue through Friday, April 15, 2011. This is the second consecutive year that USDA has offered a general CRP signup. In making the announcement at the National Pheasant Fest 2011 in Omaha, Nebraska, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack pointed out that over the past 25 years, support for CRP has grown thanks to strong backing from farmers, ranchers, conservationists, hunters, fishermen and other outdoor sports enthusiasts.
Farm Service Administrator Jonathan Coppess addressed the media about the new general sign-up for CRP.
"The best way sign up is to get into one of FSA's more than 2,200 county offices across the country and enroll the land," Coppess said. "It is a competitive contract, so they are going to offer that land up for contract, and so long as they meet the requirements for years of production, requirements for erodability index of the land and environmental benefits we'll just complete the forms, sign them up and go from there."
In order for land to be eligible for general sign-up it has to have been cropped four of the six production years of 2002-2007. In the 2008 Farm Bill Congress capped the total number of acres allowed at 32 million.
"Right now we're just over 31 million acres," Coppess said. "We expect about 4.4 million to expire, so we're looking to utilize this general sign-up as well as the continuous practices and initiatives that we have under CRP to continue Secretary Vilsack's charge to the agency to keep us as close to that 32 million statutory cap as we can."
Through CRP, eligible landowners receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Land can be enrolled for a period of up to 15 years. Contracts awarded under this signup are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1, 2011. For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.