Rushville Republican

May 22, 2013

FSA announces restart of America’s largest conservation program

Continuous and General CRP Signup underway

Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — Julia A. Wickard, State Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Indiana announced FSA is currently conducting Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signups for both general and continuous CRP. The General Signup began yesterday, May 20, 2013, and continues through June 14. Sign-up for continuous CRP began on May 13 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2013.

“CRP has a 27-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation’s natural resources, while also providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across America,” said Wickard.

In the General CRP Signups, eligible landowners submit an offer to retire land for a period of 10-15 years and establish a conservation cover such as trees or grasses on the land. These offers compete nationwide against other offers. Those offers, which result in the most environmental benefits for the cost, are accepted by USDA for enrollment. Applicants can enhance the possibility of having an offer accepted by taking actions such as offering the most environmentally sensitive land, establishing a longer lasting cover such as native grasses or trees, as well as lowering the annual rental rate per acre on the offer.

Currently in Indiana, 263,776 acres are enrolled in CRP with 37,010 active contracts. A total of 47,539 acres are scheduled to expire September 30, 2013. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and develop wildlife habitat.

 Wickard encourages producers to look into CRP’s other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, non-competitive, sign-up basis. Some acreages which have traditionally only been eligible for enrollment under the competitive General Signup are now eligible under continuous CRP initiatives. For Indiana, this includes options such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement Initiative (SAFE), the Highly Erodible Land Initiative, the Grassland Restoration Initiative, Pollinator Habitat Initiative, Wellhead Protection, and other related initiatives.

Indiana CREP is a unique federal/state partnership between USDA and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Eligible applicants in approved watersheds can enroll environmentally sensitive lands to improve water quality and wildlife habitat. Parts of 65 counties and ten watersheds in Indiana have lands eligible for enrollment in CREP. Currently there are 8,260 acres enrolled in CREP in these Indiana watersheds. Indiana is approved for six wildlife priority areas under the SAFE. These areas include habitat for the Northern Bobwhite Quail, Indiana Bat, Ring-necked Pheasant, American Woodcock, Sedge Wren/Grasshopper Sparrow, and Henslow’s Sparrow. Currently Indiana landowners have offered over 20,000 acres for enrollment under SAFE which has quickly become a popular CRP initiative.

Those interested in the more traditional Continuous CRP practices such as grassed waterways, filter strips, and field windbreaks still have the opportunity to offer acreage for these practices. In addition, there is a new continuous practice that focuses on habitat for the native pollinator and can be offered in acreages as small as 0.5 acres or whole fields.

Interested landowners are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for details of producer, land, and practice eligibility.

- Rushville Republican