FAQ: I participated in the 2011 general sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program held in April. I offered 40 acres and it was accepted. How many acres in total in Iowa were accepted in the general sign up this year?
Answer: Provided by John R. Whitaker, state executive director of the USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa. He is located at the state FSA office in Des Moines.
USDA announced on June 20 that it will accept 2.8 million acres offered by landowners under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up that was completed in April 2011. The selections help preserve and enhance environmentally sensitive lands, while providing annual payments to property owners. The landowners sign a 10 to 15 year contract with USDA agreeing to keep the land seeded to grass or other approved cover such as trees, instead of planting crops on the land.
We are pleased to find out that during this 41st general sign-up, Iowa had 1,997 offers which totaled 51,698 acres. Eighty-eight percent of the acres offered were accepted for a total sign-up enrollment of 45,421 acres in Iowa.
Environmentally-sensitive land for conservation purposes
CRP is a voluntary program helping farmers and landowners use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. Establishing an approved plant cover on the acreage accepted into 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 provides valuable habitat for wildlife.
The CRP has also restored more than two million acres of wetlands and associated buffers nationwide, and has reduced soil erosion by more than 400 million tons per year.
USDA's Conservation Reserve Program benefits all of Iowa
This is a program that really benefits Iowans. It protects our land, water and air while also providing important wildlife benefits. The amount of land offered for the CRP from private landowners shows their commitment to conservation and the environment.
USDA selected the "offers for enrollment" based on an Environmental Benefits Index or 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 additional information about the Conservation Reserve Program and other farm programs administered by FSA, contact your local FSA office or at www.fsa.usda.gov.
If you have specific questions or need details on USDA farm programs, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency or other appropriate USDA agency office. And be sure to read the regular column of "Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm Program" appearing in each issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine and at WallacesFarmer.com.