2006-02-08 / Agriculture

CRP contract re-enrollments and extentions offered

FSA News
Ty Godfrey


On Jan. 31, USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced that it will offer certain Conservation Reserve Program participants the opportunity to re-enroll in new CRP contracts or to extend their current contracts.

Between 2007 and 2010, 400,000 contracts covering 28 million acres are scheduled to expire. FSA is offering re-enrollments and contract extensions to certain contract holders in an effort to preserve CRP’s significant and enduring environmental benefits to American farmland.

This decision is also meant to reduce the potential adverse effects CRP expiration could have on nearly 16 million acres of land in 2007.

FSA considered more than 5,000 comments received during a Federal Register public comment period; held a public meeting; and met with conservation, environment, commodity and farm organizations. Eligible CRP Participants

Those eligible for reenrollments and contract extensions are CRP participants with contract expiring before September 2010. Participants with 15-year contracts will not be offered an extension. Contract Selection

FSA has determined that a contract may be reenrolled or extended based on:

 Environmental Benefits Index factors at the time of the original CRP offer, and

 the land’s location within a national conservation priority area. Environmental Benefits Index

The Environmental Benefits Index is a ranking of the land’s contribution to improving: soil erosion; water quality; air quality; trees; and wildlife habitat or other cover considered to be an enduring benefit to the land.

At the time of the original CRP offer, FSA collected EBI data based on the relative environmental benefits for the land offered. EBI rankings were unique for each piece of ground offered into CRP. Each offer was assigned a point score based on its relative environmental factors and competed against all other offers. National Priority Areas

To determine contract eligibility, FSA also considered whether the land was located within a national priority area. These areas are lands with significant adverse water quality or habitat issues. These areas are the: Chesapeake Bay; Long Island Sound; Great Lakes Region; Prairie Pothole Region in the Northern Plains Region; and Longleaf Pine Region in the southeast. Re-enrollment and Extension Terms

Contracts by sign-up will be offered in five groups. CRP participants ranking in the top one-fifth of the EBI can re-enroll their land in a new 10-year contract, with one exception. For those lands with restored wetlands, FSA will offer a 15-year contract.

The second one-fifth group will be offered a 5year extension, the third one-fifth will be offered a 4year extension, the fourth one-fifth will be offered a 3year extension, and the remaining contracts will be offered a 2-year extension.

Eligible participants may re-enroll or extend all or any portion of their existing CRP contracts, but they may not increase the number of acres under contract. Notification of Contract Holders

FSA will send letters to current CRP participants with contracts expiring Sept. 30, 2007. The letters will notify contract holders of: their contract status; the March 27 through April 14, 2006, deadline to accept offers; and the length of the contract offered.

CRP participants will be asked to confirm their interest in a re-enrolled or extended contract subject to a compliance check.

CRP participants with contracts expiring in 2008 through 2010 will be notified later this year about their contracts. Rental Payment Rates

CRP participants who accept a contract extension will maintain their current rental rates. CRP participants who accept re-enrollments will be paid based on the updated county posted soil rental rates effective at the time the contract was approved. Conservation Plans

For re-enrollments, a new conservation plan will be developed.For contract extensions, the existing conservation plan will be used. Site Visits

Regardless of which conservation plan participants take part in, each contract holder must agree to a site visit that verifies the contract is in compliance, including cover that is:

 appropriate for the site according to the conservation plan; and

 free from noxious weeds, insects and pests.

If the cover is not properly maintained or there is another violation, FSA will notify the participant that the re-enrollment or extension may not be approved. Because all participants agreed to establish and maintain the cover appropriate for their area and contract, cost-share money will not be available for extensions or re-enrollments for most participants.

More information on CRP is available at local FSA offices and on FSA’s website: http://www.fsa.usda. gov/dafp/cepd/default.htm

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