USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Bruce Nelson says the deadline for the Conservation Reserve Program sign-up has been extended to next Friday, April 13. He says the decision is a result of strong interest in the program. Once the sign-up ends - FSA will evaluate offers based on cost and the Environmental Benefits Index. The EBI considers several variables including wildlife habitat, water quality protection, soil erosion reduction, air quality protection and other enduring benefits. The accepted offers will become effective on October 1.
CRP has a 25-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation's natural resources through voluntary participation. USDA says highlights include the restoration of more than two million acres of wetlands and two million acres of riparian buffers; keeping more than 600 million pounds of nitrogen and more than 100 million pounds of phosphorous from flowing into the nation’s streams, rivers and lakes each year; and in 2010 resulting in carbon sequestration equal to taking almost 10 million cars off the road.
CRP provides $1.8 billion annually to landowners - dollars that make their way into local economies, supporting small businesses and creating jobs. 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 that clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and prevent soil erosion.
Nelson encourages all eligible farmers and ranchers to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in CRP. Producers can contact their local FSA service center or www.fsa.usda.gov/crp for more information.