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Farmers can sign up for conservation program

August 03, 2010

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program will continue through Aug. 27. During the sign-up period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land for the program at the county Farm Service Agency office.

The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to maintain CRP enrollment up to 32 million acres.

CRP is a voluntary program that assists farmers, ranchers and others to use their land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolling in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers in exchange for rental payments, cost-share and technical assistance.

CRP protects millions of acres of America's topsoil from erosion and is designed to improve the nation's natural resources base.

Participants voluntarily remove land from ag production by entering into long-term contracts for 10 to 15 years. In exchange, participants receive annual rental payments and a payment of up to 50 percent of the cost of establishing conservation practices.

Land not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this sign-up, provided all eligibility requirements are met. Additionally, CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall covering about 4.5 million acres may make new contract offers. Contracts awarded under this sign-up are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1.

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FSA implements CRP on behalf of Commodity Credit Corp. FSA will evaluate and rank eligible CRP offers using an Environmental Benefits Index for 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.

For more information, call the FSA office in Washington County at 301-797-0500 or go to http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

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