January 28, 2011
On Friday, January 28, USDA announced that a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up will be held from March 14-April 14, 2011. This is the 40th general sign-up for the CRP and the second general sign-up since 2006. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement today at the National Pheasant Fest in Omaha, Nebraska.
The last general sign-up was held last year, and enrolled over 4 million acres across the country. Read our blog post about the 39th sign-up.
Under a CRP general sign-up, FSA collects and ranks offers from farmers to enroll highly erodible and environmentally sensitive land in the Program. The land is taken out of production and long-term, resource conserving cover vegetation is established to control soil erosion, improve water and air quality, and enhance wildlife habitat. Contracts awarded under this signup will become effective Oct. 1, 2011.
With this sign-up, USDA intends to bring the total enrollment land in the CRP closer to 32 million acres, the maximum acreage authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. As of late December, 2010, there were 31.3 million acres enrolled in the CRP, including 3.7 million acres in targeted partial field enrollments through the continuous sign-up CRP (CCRP) and 1.25 million acres through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). USDA expects between 3.3 million to 6.5 million CRP acres to expire annually between 2011 and 2014.
According to the press release, “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.”
USDA has not yet posted the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) for this 40th CRP sign-up, which is used to rank applications for enrollment.
Visit our Grassroots Guide to the 2008 Farm Bill for more information on the CRP, including CCRP, CREP, and other program components.
Landowners with expiring contracts who do not plan to try to re-enroll may alternatively sign-up for the CRP-Transition Incentive Program (CRP-TIP) that allows them to rent or sell to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. Read the FSA CRP-TIP fact sheet. Landowners with expiring CRP contracts as well as beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers are encouraged to use USDA’s TIP Net, an online tool to help link retiring farmers with those who want to buy or rent land for their operations. TIP-NET functions like the classifieds section of a newspaper, where you can browse available ads posted by farmers and those looking for land. In order to post an ad, you will need to create an E-Authentication Account.
The CRP-TIP program was championed by NSAC, leading an advocacy drive to get it included in the 2008 Farm Bill. We are pleased with the progress of the program to date, and with the new TIP-Net tool. For more information on the TIP program, visit our TIP entry in the Grassroots Guide to the 2008 Farm Bill.
Another option for landowners with expiring contracts who plan to put their land back into production is to sign-up to enroll conservation buffers in the continuous sign-up CRP (CCRP) to reduce run-off and provide habitat and continue to collect CRP rental payments on those buffer strips and portions of fields.