Farm Services Agency taking applications for conservation program
Houston County Courier
Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Executive Director, Darvin L. Collins announced that a general sign-up for the Conversation Reserve Program (CRP) began on Aug. 2 and will continue through Aug. 27. During the sign-up period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land for CRP’s competitive general sign-up at the Houston/Leon/Madison county FSA office. 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 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 environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production by entering into long-term contracts for 10 to 15 years. In exchange, participants re-ceive annual rental payments and a payment of up to 50 percent of the cost of establishing conservation practices. By reducing water run-off and sedimentation, CRP also protects groundwater and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. Acreage enrolled in the CRP is planted to resource-conserving vegetative covers, making the program a major contributor to wildlife popula-tion increases in many parts of the country. As a result, CRP has provided significant opportunities for hunting and fishing on private lands. Land currently not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this sign-up provided all eligibility requirements are met. Additionally, current CRP participants with contracts ex-piring 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. FSA implements CRP on be-half 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 en-rolling 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 visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.