Previously we reported an earlier deadline for offering land for the general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program. Now Farm Service Agency executive director Julia Wickard says that the deadline has been extended to give producers more time to decide if they want to offer land for the program.
The new deadline is April 13. That allows time to consider submitting an offer on land that might qualify for the program. Usually that's sloping land with some sort of environmental problem. Specific rules apply as to what land can be offered. Check with your local FSA office.
Wickard also clarified that land scheduled to come out of CRP that is currently in the program can be submitted for enrollment again. It will be measured against other lands submitted. In the end FSA makes decisions on which lands are accepted into the program based upon cost to pay the landowner plus the Environmental Benefits Index for the field. The goal is to sign up the most environmentally sensitive or erosive land for the program, while also considering the cost that it will take to get the landowner to place those acres in the program.
Some 32 million acres are currently in the program, which began in the mid- 1980s. U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, R-Ind., was instrumental in passing legislation that allowed for this program. Current guesses are that the new farm bill may cut back acreage on CRP to save money, but the farm bill debate is still in the early stages. However, because of that talk, there was some surprise that FSA offered this general signup.This does not affect practices enrolled in what's called the continuous CRP program. Those are often waterways or filter strips or similar practices. Enrollment is always open for those practices. Awarding of contracts is based upon how much money is available for that particular program.