If your Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land is set to expire in 2007, you may be able to re-enroll beginning at the end of August. On Wednesday, President George Bush launched two new conservation initiatives at an event in Minnesota.
One new initiative will create 250,000 acres of habitat for the northern bobwhite quail, a native quail species that has historically ranged in 35 states. The other new initiative will create 250,000 acres of wetlands and playa lakes in non-floodplain areas, which is vital habitat for species such as upland ducks, pheasants and sandhill cranes.
General sign-up for CRP will begin Aug. 30 and run through Sept. 24, 2004. CRP is the country's largest conservation program on private lands with a current enrollment of 34.8 million acres.
The 2002 Farm Bill authorized CRP enrollment up to 39.2 million acres. Since there is limited acreage available for enrollment, landowners are encouraged to work with their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices to maximize the environmental benefits of their CRP offers. During the last CRP general sign-up, held from May 5 to June 13, 2003, enrollment offers were highly competitive. Of the 4 million acres offered, USDA selected 2 million acres that offered the greatest environmental benefits.
USDA will use the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) to rank the acreage offered. The EBI is based on costs and five other factors: soil erosion, water quality, enduring benefits, air quality and wildlife enhancement.
Offers accepted under this sign-up will become effective Oct. 1, 2005, or Oct. 1, 2006, at the producer's discretion. More detailed information on CRP and the general sign-up is available at local FSA offices and on FSA's Web site.