New Highly Erodible Cropland Initiative Announced for Conservation Reserve ProgramTue, 21 Feb 2012 12:50:28 CST
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a new conservation initiative to protect up to 750,000 acres of the nation’s most highly erodible croplands. Vilsack made the announcement via video to attendees of the National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic, held Feb. 17-19 in Kansas City, Mo. The new initiative will assist producers with targeting their most highly erodible cropland (land with an erodibility index of 20 or greater) by enabling them to plant wildlife-friendly, long-term cover through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
Producers can enroll land on a continuous basis beginning this summer at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office. With the use of soil survey and geographic information system data, local FSA staff can quickly determine a producer’s eligibility for the initiative.
“This announcement will strengthen CRP by focusing on protecting the most environmentally sensitive land. It targets limited resources where they can make the most difference for farmers, ranchers and to drive economic growth. I urge landowners who have highly erodible land to visit their county office to learn more about this program,” Vilsack said.
CRP is a voluntary program designed to help farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers protect their environmentally sensitive land. Through this initiative, eligible landowners receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Land can be enrolled on a continuous basis for a period of 10 years. Land currently not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this sign-up provided all eligibility requirements are met. Current CRP participants with eligible land expiring on Sept.30, 2012, may make new contract offers.
In addition to Vilsack’s announcement, USDA will conduct a four-week CRP general signup, beginning on March 12 and ending on April 6. Currently, about 30 million acres are enrolled in CRP.
In 2011, USDA enrolled a record number of acres of private working lands in conservation programs, working with more than 500,000 farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices.
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