Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns is reminding Conservation Reserve Program participants with contracts expiring between 2008 and 2010 they have until Friday, June 30, to apply for re-enrollment or extension.
“I encourage all eligible farmers and ranchers to take advantage of the Conservation Reserve Program enrollment options,” said Johanns. “Farmers can maintain their significant soil, water, air and wildlife habitat benefits by re-enrolling and extending their CRP contracts.”
USDA’s Farm Service Agency notified almost 160,000 CRP participants with contracts expiring between 2008 and 2010 of their opportunity to re-enroll and extend. FSA will report the intentions of those contract holders later this summer.
FSA will use the Environmental Benefits Index at the time of enrollment to determine eligibility for CRP re-enrollments or extensions, giving additional credit for contracts within national CRP conservation priority areas. FSA will rank individual contracts into one of five tiers based on the environmental benefits of the original EBI score.
Eligible participants ranking in the first tier (81 percent to 100 percent) of the EBI may re-enroll their land in new 10-year contracts. Participants with wetlands in this top tier ranking are eligible to re-enroll those wetlands in a 15-year contract.
Eligible participants ranking in the second tier (61 percent to 80 percent) may extend their CRP contracts for five years. Participants in the third tier (41 percent to 60 percent) may extend their contracts by four years. Participants in the fourth tier (21 percent to 40 percent) may receive three-year extensions. Participants in the bottom tier may extend their contracts by two years.
Before approving re-enrolled or extended contracts, FSA will review the contracts to ensure that the required cover is maintained and landowners are complying with other contract provisions. In addition, participants must be able to show that they meet eligibility requirements for the new enrollment period. In the case of re-enrollments, updated rental rates will apply.
On June 5, USDA announced that CRP participants with contracts expiring Sept. 30, 2007, intend to re-enroll or extend CRP contracts covering 13 million acres, almost 84 percent of the 15.5 million acres set to expire. FSA posted tables showing state and county acreage enrollment data at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/cepd/crp.htm.
CRP participants may voluntarily enroll highly erodible and other fragile cropland in CRP through long-term contracts of 10- to 15-years. On the enrolled land, participants plant grasses, trees and other vegetation. In exchange, participants receive annual rental payments and a payment of up to 50 percent of the cost of establishing conservation practices.
For more information on CRP, contact your local FSA office or visit the FSA Web site at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/cepd/default.htm.