May 8, 2009
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week that U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) will offer certain producers the opportunity to modify and extend their Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts that are scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2009.
USDA can only extend approximately 1.5 million acres out of a total 3.9 million acres expiring this year. This extension will ensure that FSA meets the statutory CRP acreage limitation of 32 million acres established in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.
FSA will notify participants by letter beginning May 6, 2009. The sign-up for this voluntary extension will begin on May 18 and run through June 30, 2009. Farmers and ranchers may apply for this extension at their FSA county office. FSA administers CRP on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation.
CRP contracts with the highest environmental benefit or with the highest potential for soil erosion will be selected. CRP contracts can not exceed 15 years in the aggregate and chosen CRP contract holders will generally be offered a three to five-year extension.
Producers electing to extend their contract period will receive their current contract rental rate. All or a portion of the acreage under contract may be included in an extension, but no new acreage may be added.
Through CRP, FSA enters into long-term (10-15 year) contracts with agricultural producers to protect highly erodible and other environmentally-sensitive land. Participants convert enrolled land to grass, trees, wildlife habitats and other conservation uses. The program has reduced soil erosion by more than 400 million tons, protected more than 2 million acres of wetlands and resulted in buffers established on more than 100,000 miles of streams and rivers.
For more information about CRP and other FSA programs, visit your county FSA office or www.fsa.usda.gov