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Farm service agency news


Fri, Aug 6th, 2010
Posted in Agriculture

USDA Announces

Conservation Reserve Program General Sign-up

General sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will began on August 2, 2010 and continues through August 27, 2010. During the sign-up period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land for CRP's competitive general sign-up at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to maintain CRP enrollment up to 32 million acres.

Secretary Vilsack has recorded two public service announcements, which are available to the press and public at www.fsa.usda.gov/psa.

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 receive annual rental payments and a payment of up to 50 percent of the cost of establishing conservation practices.

By reducing water runoff 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 population 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 expiring 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, 2010. CRP contracts that expire Oct. 1, 2011, or later, are not able to make odders during this signup period.

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, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

Transition Incentive Program

Sign up is currently underway for the Transition Incentives Program (TIP) - a new program under the Conservation Title of the 2008 Farm Bill - to encourage retired or retiring owners or operators to transition their land to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers.

"Ensuring that our nation's land is returned to production using sustainable methods is critical not only for our future food supply, but also for the economic future of our rural communities," said Tammy Martin,CED. "Access to land is one of the greatest challenges faced by new farmers. The Transition Incentives Program is one more tool in the USDA toolkit to protect family farms and support beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers."

If all program requirements are met, TIP provides annual rental payments to the retiring farmer for up to two additional years after the date of the expiration of the CRP contract, provided the transition is not to a family member. To learn more about program, producers interested in applying and participating in TIP should visit their local USDA Service Center or FSA county office or www.fsa.usda.gov.

To be eligible, TIP requires that the retired or retiring farmer or rancher:

• Have land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that is in the last year of the contract.

• Agree to allow the beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher make conservation and land improvements.

• Agree to sell, or have a contract to sell, or agree to long-term lease (a minimum of five years) the land under CRP contract to a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher by Oct. 1 of the year the CRP contract expires.

Supporting local economies and providing opportunities for beginning or socially disadvantaged Americans with a desire to farm or ranch is one of the many ways the Obama Administration and USDA are working to rebuild and revitalize rural America.

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