COLUMBUS, Ohio — Feb. 7, 2011 – Steve Maurer, State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), announced a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up to begin March 14, through April 15, 2011. This is the second consecutive year that USDA has offered a general CRP sign-up.

“Financial incentives available through CRP afford farmers and landowners a low risk opportunity to implement a variety of conservation practices that will benefit the environment in a number of ways,” said Maurer. “Over the past 25 years, CRP practices have improved water and air quality, increased wildlife habitat and prevented soil erosion,” he said.

Landowners enrolled in the CRP program receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Land that is not currently enrolled in CRP can be offered during sign-up if all eligibility requirements are met. CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall can make new contract offers during the sign-up period. Contracts awarded during this general sign-up will become effective October 1, 2011.

All CRP offers are evaluated and ranked using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) that indicates the environmental benefits of enrolling land in CRP. There are six factors that make up the EBI:  wildlife, water, soil, air, enduring benefits and cost. Decisions will be made following the end of the sign-up period and after analyzing EBI data on all of the offers.

For more information about general CRP sign-up, please contact your local FSA office or visit the FSA CRP website at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp .

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