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USDA Release

Secretary Vilsack Announces a General Signup Period for the Conservation Reserve Program

Announcement at Pheasant Fest Marks 25th Anniversary of CRP, Opens New Conservation Opportunities to Landowners

OMAHA, Jan. 28, 2011 — Speaking today at National Pheasant Fest 2011, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the next general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will begin on March 14, 2011, and continue through April 15, 2011. This is the second consecutive year that USDA has offered a general CRP signup.

"Over the past 25 years, support for CRP has grown thanks to strong backing from farmers, ranchers, conservationists, hunters, fishermen and other outdoor sports enthusiasts,” said Vilsack. “Not only has CRP contributed to the national effort to improve water and air quality, it has preserved habitat for wildlife, and prevented soil erosion by protecting the most sensitive areas including those prone to flash flooding and runoff. Today’s announcement continues the Obama Administration’s effort to conserve sensitive areas and improve wildlife habitat."

Through CRP, eligible landowners receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Land can be enrolled for a period of up to 15 years. During the general signup period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. Land currently not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this signup provided all eligibility requirements are met. Additionally, current CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall may make new contract offers. Contracts awarded under this signup are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1, 2011. The general sign-up for CRP will not affect cropped acres for this growing season. Acres will be enrolled in the program in the fall.

To help ensure that interested farmers and ranchers are aware of the signup period, USDA has signed partnership agreements with several conservation and wildlife organizations that will play an active role in USDA’s 2011 CRP outreach efforts. They include; Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Association of State Foresters, Playa Lakes Joint Venture (Lesser Prairie Chicken/Sage Grouse), and the Longleaf Incorporated Bobwhite Conservation Initiative.

The FSA implements CRP on behalf of Commodity Credit Corporation. FSA will evaluate and rank eligible CRP offers using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) that shows 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 cost. Decisions on the EBI cutoff will be made after the sign-up ends and after analyzing the EBI data of all the offers.

In addition to the general sign-up, CRP's continuous sign-up program will be ongoing. Continuous acres represent the most environmentally desirable and sensitive land. For more information, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

CRP protects millions of acres of American topsoil from erosion and is designed to safeguard the Nation's natural resources. By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP protects groundwater and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams. Acreage enrolled in the CRP is planted to resource-conserving vegetative covers, making the program a major contributor to increased wildlife populations in many parts of the country. Through the 2008 Farm Bill, CRP is authorized for a maximum enrollment of 32 million acres. USDA estimates that contracts on 3.3 million to 6.5 million acres are scheduled to expire annually between now and 2014.

USDA Release

USDA Reminds Producers of Approaching Sign-Up Deadline for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 16, 2010 – The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers that the deadline to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up is quickly approaching. Farmers and ranchers have until close of business on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010, to offer eligible land for CRP's competitive general sign-up. Applications can be completed by land owners at the FSA county office where their farm records are maintained. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to maintain CRP enrollment up to 32 million acres.

In addition to producers signing up for the first time, CRP participants with existing contracts that are scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2010, may elect to re-enroll under a new 10-15 year contract. Cropland that is highly erodible, or within a national or state Conservation Priority Area, or is covered under an expiring CRP contract is generally eligible to be enrolled into CRP, provided all other eligibility requirements are met.

Contracts awarded under this 39th sign-up are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1, 2010.

CRP is a voluntary program that helps farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers protect their environmentally sensitive land. Producers enrolling in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers in exchange for rental payments, cost-share and technical assistance.

In addition to the general sign-up, CRP's continuous sign-up program is ongoing. Continuous acres represent the most environmentally desirable and sensitive land.

For more information on the general CRP sign-up, or the continuous CRP sign-up, producers should contact their local FSA county office, or visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/.


USDA Release

USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program General Sign-up (see fact sheet)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 26, 2010) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that a general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will begin on August 2, 2010 and continue through August 27, 2010. During the sign-up period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land for CRP's competitive general sign-up at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to maintain CRP enrollment up to 32 million acres. Jim Miller, Agriculture Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services, made the announcement on behalf of Secretary Vilsack during a conference call with reporters.

"America's farmers and ranchers play an important role in improving our environment, and for nearly 25 years, CRP has helped this nation build sound conservation practices that preserve the soil, clean our water, and restore habitat for wildlife," said Miller. "Today’s announcement will help us create a greener and healthier America, and I encourage all interested farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn more how to take advantage of this opportunity.”

To help ensure that interested farmers and ranchers are aware of the sign-up period, USDA has signed partnership agreements with several conservation and wildlife organizations, which will play an active role in USDA’s 2010 CRP outreach efforts. Additionally, Secretary Vilsack has recorded two public service announcements, which are available to the press and public at www.fsa.usda.gov/psa.

CRP is a voluntary program that assists farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers to use their environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolling in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers in exchange for rental payments, cost-share, and technical assistance. CRP protects millions of acres of America's topsoil from erosion and is designed to improve the nation's natural resources base. 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.

By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP also protects groundwater and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. Acreage enrolled in the CRP is planted to resource-conserving vegetative covers, making the program a major contributor to wildlife population increases in many parts of the country. As a result, CRP has provided significant opportunities for hunting and fishing on private lands.

Land currently not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this sign-up provided all eligibility requirements are met. Additionally, current CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall covering about 4.5 million acres may make new contract offers. Contracts awarded under this sign-up are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1, 2010.

FSA implements CRP on behalf of Commodity Credit Corporation. FSA will evaluate and rank eligible CRP offers using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) for 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 cost. Decisions on the EBI cutoff will be made after the sign-up ends and after analyzing the EBI data of all the offers.

Those who would have met previous sign-up EBI thresholds are not guaranteed a contract under this sign-up. In addition to the general sign-up, CRP's continuous sign-up program will be ongoing. Continuous acres represent the most environmentally desirable and sensitive land. For more information, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).


July 9, 2010 Cotton’s Week Article

New Videos Added to Conservation Information Portal

A new video, entitled “Tips,” has been added to the NCC’s “Conservation in Cotton Production,” a recently created portal on its website to help its producer members determine which federal conservation programs would be beneficial to their operations and to better understand the programs’ requirements and enrollment processes.

The portal contains videos on the new Conservation Stewardship Program, the Conservation Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program and other easement programs. The “Tips” video offers suggestions for improving producers’ odds of acceptance into these programs. For example, it encourages producers to: 1) check all programs before making a decision on which program to participate in, 2) know their local and state conservation district’s priorities and 3) participate in their local conservation district.

The portal, at http://www.cotton.org/econ/govprograms/conservation-programs.cfm, offers a central information venue with these short educational videos and program fact sheets outlining the various conservation programs. The videos contain commentary from Bruce Knight, former chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, along with cotton producers who have utilized the programs.

The portal will be continually updated with the latest conservation news regarding sign-up deadlines and new programs offered through USDA. The NCC is exploring the addition of a “Fieldprint Calculator” tool that would allow growers to see how their efficiency performance compares to national and state averages.

NCC Release

NCC Providing Cotton Producer Members Targeted Conservation Program Information

MEMPHIS -- The National Cotton Council has created “Conservation in Cotton Production,” a website portal that is intended to raise its producer members’ awareness and use of federal conservation programs.

“As conservation funding is expected to account for almost 30% of total spending on agricultural programs, the National Cotton Council is encouraging producers to learn more about the various programs available,” said NCC Chairman Eddie Smith. “The Council believes that quality conservation efforts not only improve the environment but can improve a producer’s bottom line.”

The multi-element portal contains information aimed at helping producers determine which conservation programs would be beneficial to their operations and to better understand those programs’ qualifications and enrollment processes and even tips on improving producers’ acceptance rates into those programs.

The portal, which is at http://www.cotton.org/econ/govprograms/conservation-programs.cfm, offers a dynamic central information venue with program fact sheets and short educational videos outlining various conservation programs. The videos contain commentary, both from Bruce Knight, former chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and from cotton producers who have utilized the programs.

The portal also will be continually updated with information ranging from additional educational videos to the latest conservation news regarding sign-up deadlines and new programs offered through USDA. The NCC also is planning to add a link to the “Fieldprint Calculator” tool, a product of the “Field to Market” project. The Calculator allows growers to see their operation’s efficiency performance and to compare it with national and state performance averages.

June 4, 2010 Cotton’s Week Article

CSP Final Rule Issued

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA published the final regulations governing the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Authorized in the ’08 farm law, the CSP is a voluntary program that offers payments to producers who exercise good land stewardship and want to improve their conservation performance.

Vilsack also announced that the enrollment period for CSP's second year, which is currently open, has been extended an additional two weeks, now closing on June 25, ’10. Producers must fill out the basic Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) application by this date in order to be eligible for this year’s acreage allotment.

CSP is available to all producers regardless of operation size, crops produced or geographic location. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland and non-industrial private forest land. Effective immediately under the June 4th final rule, the program retains the broad features outlined in the interim final rule, including:

  • CSP pays participants for conservation performance – the higher the performance, the higher the payment.
  • Producers get credit both for conservation measures they already have implemented and for new measures they agree to add.

NCC staff developed a summary of the CSP program that includes changes in the final rule. The summary and the program’s final rule can be accessed from the NCC’s home page at www.cotton.org.

Potential applicants are encouraged to use the CSP self-screening checklist to determine whether CSP is suitable for their operation and to apply prior to the closing date of June 25, ’10, when applications will be scored, ranked and funded. The checklist may be obtained from the national CSP website, www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html, or individual state NRCS offices website, www.nrcs.usda.gov/about/organization/regions.html.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - June 18, 2010
Contact:  T. Cotton Nelson (901) 274-9030  cnelson@cotton.org or
Marjory Walker, mwalker@cotton.org