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General signup for the Farm Service Agency's Conservation Reserve Program begins today. Signups will continue through April 15.
The Conservation Reserve Program is the largest voluntary private-land conservation program. It helps farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers use their environmentally sensitive land for conservation purposes. CRP assists in creating new wildlife habitat, enhancing water, soil, and air quality through a variety of covers that can be established on the offered land.
In return for offering the land, the Farm Service Agency provides participants with rental payments, cost share and technical assistance on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corp.
This is the second consecutive year there has been a general CRP signup. This year's signup coincides with the celebration marking 25 years of the CRP program. During this time, CRP has protected millions of acres from erosion while also increasing wildlife numbers throughout Kentucky. It has reduced water runoff and sedimentation, has protected groundwater and helped the condition of Kentucky's lakes, rivers, ponds and streams.
Eligible participants can sign up new land into this program if eligibility requirements have been met. At the time of signup, participants should be prepared to identify the specific acreage they want to offer. If the land is owned by more than one person, all owners must agree to enroll the land prior to the end of signup. Contracts awarded under this signup are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1.
Following signup, all offers for CRP will be evaluated and ranked using an Environmental Benefits Index for the environmental benefits to be gained from enrolling the land in CRP. The EBI consists of five environmental factors (wildlife, water, soil, air and enduring benefits) and a cost factor. Decisions on the EBI cutoff will be made after the signup ends and after analyzing the EBI data of all offers.
Those who would have met previous signup EBI thresholds are not guaranteed a contract under this signup. In addition to the general signup, CRP's continuous signup program will be ongoing. Acreage enrolled into the Continuous CRP represent the most environmentally desirable and sensitive land.
For more information on the general Conservation Reserve Program sign up, contact your local county FSA office or access the website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov.