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Another CRP Sign-Up Begins March 14

Another CRP Sign-Up Begins March 14

The next general signup for USDA's Conservation Reserve Program will begin March 14 and continue through April 15, 2011. This is the second consecutive year USDA has offered a general CRP signup.

FAQ: In late January USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a general signup period for the Conservation Reserve Program. What can you tell me about it? I have 40 acres on which the CRP contract expires this year and with today's high grain prices, my son thinks we should plant that 40 acres to corn. What yearly payment rate is USDA offering for re-enrolling land into CRP? Can we find that out yet from FSA?

Answer: Provided by Beth Grabau, public relations and outreach specialist for USDA Farm Service Agency's state office in Des Moines, with assistance from Vickie Friedow, state FSA program specialist for CRP.

The next general signup period for the Conservation Reserve Program will begin on Monday, March 14 and continue through Friday, April 15, 2011. In making the announcement on January 31, USDA Secretary Vilsack pointed out that this is the 25th anniversary of the program. And over the past 25 years, the CRP has grown thanks to strong backing from farmers, ranchers, conservationists, hunters, fishermen and other outdoor sports enthusiasts.

The goal of the new signup period is to bring an additional four million acres into the program this coming fall in the U.S., replacing the roughly four million coming out of the CRP this year. Contracts that are accepted under this 2011 sign up are scheduled to become effective October 1, 2011. So the acres enrolled in this 2011 signup period would not have an impact on 2011 crop production.

Rental rates are based on the three predominant soil types associated with the land that is being offered into the program.

Entry into the general CRP contract is a competitive process. Landowners offer land to be enrolled and in order to be eligible to be offered, the land must meet cropping history requirements (planted or considered planted to an ag commodity during four of the past six years from 2002 to 2007), in addition to other eligibility requirements. Factors such as a soil erosion index of the land, and environmental benefits increase the chances of your offer being accepted into the program. You go to your local FSA office and complete the forms and sign them.

Question: What land is eligible, how are payments determined?

Through CRP, eligible landowners receive payments which include annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers such as grass or trees on eligible land. Land can be enrolled for a period of up to 15 years.

In order for land to be eligible for a general sign-up it has to have been cropped four of the six crop production years from 2002 through 2007.

In the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress capped the total number of CRP acres allowed nationwide at 32 million. Currently, just over 31 million acres are in CRP. In his announcement of the 2011 signup, Secretary Vilsack said USDA expects about 4.4 million CRP acres to expire this year, and USDA is looking to use this general signup in 2011 as well as the continuous sign up practices to keep the CRP as close to the 32 million cap as they can.

How are payments determined? When can a landowner find out what the approximate CRP rental payment amounts will be for land offered for this 2011 signup?

Rental rates are based on the three predominant soil types associated with the land that is being offered into the program. Each soil type has a payment rate associated with it. First, you need to identify the area you are interested in enrolling. Using the top three soil types, a weighted average is used to determine the maximum rental rates. If a producer wants to make a revision on the area offered for CRP, a new rental rate will be calculated, as the three predominant soil types could change.

So, payment rates will vary for these reasons. After you have decided on the area you are interested in offering, FSA will assist you with all the forms that need to be completed to submit your bid into this general CRP sign up.

For more information contact your FSA office and visit the website

If you have specific questions or need details regarding USDA farm programs, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office. You can also get news and information about DCP, ACRE and other USDA programs at

Two Iowa State University Extension Web sites have farm program information and analysis. They are ISU's Ag Decision Maker site at and ISU Extension Specialist Steve Johnson's site at

And be sure to read the regular column "Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm Program" that appears in each issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine and at

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