Conservation Reserve Program Critical For OklahomaThu, 29 Jul 2010 5:28:11 CDT
Francie Tolle, executive director for Oklahoma Farm Service Agency (FSA), highlights the critical need for landowners to take advantage of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up which will begin on August 2, 2010 and continue through August 27, 2010. Farmers and ranchers interested in offering land under the competitive general sign-up are encouraged to contact their local FSA office.
"For over 25 years, CRP has been USDA's most important and successful conservation program, protecting water quality, reducing erosion and creating habitat for a diverse mix of wildlife," said Tolle. "It's a program critically important to preserving the land in rural Oklahoma for future generations."
Currently, Oklahoma has 861,000 acres under contract in the CRP. On September 30, 2010 there are 211,000 acres expiring from contracts. Tolle noted, "Oklahoma needs a strong enrollment in this program period to maintain the environmental benefits we have built in past years under the CRP."
CRP is a voluntary program that assists farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers to use their environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolling in CRP plant long-term, elected vegetative covers in exchange for rental payments, cost-share, and technical assistance. Participants voluntarily remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production by entering into long-term contracts for 10 to 15 years.
Cropland currently not enrolled in CRP and previously expired CRP contract acres may be offered in this sign-up provided all eligibility requirements are met. Additionally, current CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall may make new contract offers. Contracts awarded under this sign-up are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1, 2010.
FSA implements CRP on behalf of Commodity Credit Corporation. FSA will evaluate and rank eligible CRP offers using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) 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. Decisions on the EBI cutoff will be made after the sign-up ends and after analyzing the EBI data of all the offers.
Those who would have met previous sign-up EBI thresholds are not guaranteed a contract under this sign-up. In addition to the general sign-up, CRP's continuous sign-up program will be ongoing. Continuous acres represent the most environmentally desirable and sensitive land.
For more information on the conservation reserve program, visit your local County FSA office- or click here for the webpages with more details about CRP.
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