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Conservation Reserve Program sign-up available to area farmers

June 10, 2013

Colleen Cashell, executive director of Washington County’s Farm Service Agency, reminds farmers and landowners that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is conducting its Conservation Reserve Program sign-up, which ends Friday.

Cashell also announced the restart of sign-up for continuous CRP, including the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the Highly Erodible Land Initiative, the Grassland Restoration Initiative, the Pollinator Habitat Initiative and other related initiatives. Sign-up for continuous CRP continues through Sept. 30.

CRP is a program for protecting environmentally sensitive lands from erosion and sedimentation, and for ensuring the sustainability of  groundwater, lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. Offers for sign-up CRP contracts are ranked according to an Environmental Benefits Index. USDA’s Farm Service Agency collects data for each of the index factors based on the relative environmental benefits for the land offered.

Producers are also encouraged to look into CRP’s other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, noncompetitive, sign-up basis. For example, CREP participants receive cost-share, annual rental payments and incentive payments to install fence, watering systems, livestock crossings, and permanent grass or tree buffers alongside streams. Or highly erodible cropland can be converted to habitat for ground-nesting birds.

USDA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years. Currently, 27 million acres are enrolled in CRP through 700,000 contracts on 390,000 farms throughout the U.S., with enrollment in 49 states and Puerto Rico.

For more information, stop  by the local FSA service center at 1260 Maryland Ave., Suite 107 in Hagerstown, or go to www.fsa.usda.gov.

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