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Filter strip, photo courtesy USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

USDA reminds producers of Feb. 28 deadline for Conservation Reserve Program general signup

Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 2020 general signup must make an offer of acres or schedule an appointment to do so with their local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) service center by Friday, February 28.

The general signup – which opened in December – is available to producers and private landowners who are either offering for the first time or re-offering acres for another 10- to 15-year term in the 35-year-old USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) conservation program.

“Call your FSA county office today to make an appointment to sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “As long as you have an appointment scheduled, your CRP offer will be able to compete in this general signup, even if the appointment is in the first week of March. This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want to make sure interested producers and landowners take advantage of this popular conservation program.”

Farmers and landowners who enroll land in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.

CRP currently has about 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill raises the cap to 27 million acres in fiscal year 2023. The cap for fiscal year 2020 is 24.5 million acres.

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U.S. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion by taking marginal lands out of production.

Producers and landowners interested in the general signup must contact their FSA county office by Friday, February 28 to schedule an appointment. Visit farmers.gov/service-locator to find nearest FSA county office.

Other CRP opportunities are also available, including, the CRP continuous signup, which is ongoing. CRP Grasslands signup runs from March 16, 2020 to May 15, 2020. To learn more about CRP, visit fsa.usda.gov/crp, which includes a webinar on the CRP general signup.

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