Iowa landowners will have a three-week window to submit offers to enroll land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), USDA's largest and most successful conservation program, according to the head of the Iowa Farm Service Agency.
That could come as important new to Buena Vista County, where CRP has seen a lot of interest of late.
"Landowners here in Buena Vista County have been utilizing the CRP to achieve environmental benefits," said Rex Wittrock, county director for the FSA. "Over 1,400 acres have been enrolled since October of 2005, for a total of over 7,100 acres CRP in Buena Vista County."
Derryl McLaren, State Executive Director of the Iowa Farm Service Agency, reminded farmers and landowners that a general sign-up for CRP will begin March 27, 2006 and run through April 14, 2006.
This general sign-up is an excellent opportunity for Iowa farmers and livestock producers to offer environmentally sensitive lands that have not previously been in CRP as well as CRP contracts set to expire September 30, 2006.
"CRP protects fragile cropland from erosion and improves the nation's natural resources," said McLaren. "By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, the program safeguards surface water and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds and streams, many of which are used for drinking water supplies."
According to McLaren, acreage enrolled in CRP is devoted to resource-conserving vegetative covers, making the program a major contributor to more abundant wildlife populations in many parts of the country.
CRP 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.
McLaren said the 2002 Farm Bill capped CRP enrollment at 39.2 million acres and that 35.9 million acres were currently enrolled. "Since there is limited acreage available for enrollment," he said, "competition is going to be tight." Landowners are encouraged to work with the staff at their local Farm Service Agency offices to maximize the environmental benefits of their CRP contract offers.
USDA will use the Environmental Benefits Index to rank the acreage offered. The index is based on costs and five environmental factors: soil erosion, water quality, enduring benefits, air quality and wildlife enhancement.
Offers accepted under this sign-up will become effective Oct. 1, 2006.
Information on CRP and the general sign-up is available at local Farm Service Agency offices and online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/cepd/crpinf....