Farmers and ranchers with certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts expiring this year may extend their contracts for one year, the USDA says.
The extension option applies to CRP participants with contracts scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2005, and whose original contract with the extension will not exceed 15 years.
The extension potentially affects 7,000 contracts covering approximately 437,000 acres of land now protected by the CRP. Local offices of USDA's Farm Service Agency will notify eligible CRP participants of their option to modify and extend their CRP contracts. The deadline to apply for this extension is Sept. 2, 2005.
The extension will not change participantsâ€™ rental rates. All or a portion of the acreage under contract may be included in an extension, but no new acreage may be added. Obligations and responsibilities under the original contract continue to apply to contracts that are modified and extended.
USDA is not planning to offer a general CRP signup in fiscal year 2005. However, producers may continue to enroll relatively small, highly-desirable acreage, such as filter strips and riparian buffers, in the continuous CRP at any time at their local FSA office.
Extending individual contracts and conducting one general signup will be more efficient and cost-effective than conducting two general signups. Currently, CCC is actively developing re-enrollment and extension options as a result of President Bushâ€™s announcement in August 2004 to re-enroll and extend contracts scheduled to expire between 2007 and 2010.
The CRP is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource- conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion, and enhance wildlife habitat. In return, CCC provides participants with rental payments for 10- to 15-years and cost-share assistance to establish the conservation practice. Since its inception in 1986, CRP continues to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and wildlife habitat, and sequester atmospheric carbon in the 35 million acres currently enrolled in the program.