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CRP sign-up starts today

Starting today, agricultural producers and landowners can sign up to enroll land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The enrollment period continues through April 14.

CRP participants voluntarily enroll highly erodible and other fragile cropland in CRP through long-term contracts of 10 to 15 years. On the enrolled land, participants plant grasses, trees and other vegetation. In exchange, participants receive annual rental payments and a payment of up to 50% of the cost of establishing conservation covers.

As in previous general sign-ups, the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) will evaluate eligible CRP offers with the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI), a ranking of the land's contribution to improving soil retention, water quality, wildlife habitat and air quality. FSA will determine the EBI cutoff after the sign-up ends by analyzing the EBI factors of all offers. Since the EBI cutoff used in previous sign-ups may be different for this sign-up, those who met previous EBI thresholds are not guaranteed a contract under this sign-up.

There is limited acreage available for enrollment. FSA encourages landowners to work with their local FSA office to maximize the environmental benefits of their CRP offers. During the last CRP general sign-up, enrollment offers were highly competitive. Of the 1.7 million acres offered, FSA selected 1.2 million acres that offered the greatest environmental benefits, according to USDA. With a current enrollment of 36 million acres, CRP is nearing the maximum allowable acreage of 39.2 million.

Offers accepted under this sign-up will become effective October 1, 2006.

"This sign-up underscores President Bush's commitment to enrolling the maximum amount of acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "I strongly encourage all eligible farmers to continue improving our soil, water, air and wildlife habitat resources by applying for CRP at local Farm Service Agency offices."

In addition to general sign-up, producers may enroll the most environmentally sensitive land in CRP continuous sign-up and other CRP initiatives. More information on these initiatives and the general sign-up is available at local FSA offices and on FSA's Web site at www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/cepd/crpinfo.htm.

Starting today, agricultural producers and landowners can sign up to enroll land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The enrollment period continues through April 14.

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