Signup for Conservation Reserve Program Runs March 12 - April 6
DES MOINES—Producers who are tired of farming steep side slopes and other environmentally sensitive land can put that land into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
Starting March 12, the general CRP sign-up continues through April 13 at USDA Farm Service Agency offices.
"For 25 years, we have proudly enrolled and re-enrolled producers into this premiere private lands conservation program," said John R. Whitaker, state executive director of the Iowa Farm Service Agency. "The benefits have been to protect Iowa's most environmentally sensitive lands and to ensure the sustainability of our groundwater, lakes, rivers, ponds and streams."
The CRP contracts provide annual rental payments to landowners who in turn agree to use conservation practices that will reduce soil erosion, improve water and air quality, or provide winter cover and food for wildlife.
Updated rental rates may make CRP a more attractive alternative where costs are high and yields are low.
"NRCS and our conservation partners ask landowners to remember the soil conservation, water quality and wildlife habitat benefits generated by land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, as well as the rental income. We hope they factor those values into the equation as they make land use decisions," said Rich Sims, state conservationist with the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service.
"Crop producers who selectively use CRP on problem areas provide cleaner water and air for all Iowans. Planting grasses or trees provides habitat that is critical to reverse the decline of pheasants, songbirds and other wildlife," said Roger L. Lande, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
"We all know that CRP grasslands are absolutely vital habitat for pheasants and other ground nesting upland birds," said Matt O'Connor, director of conservation for Iowa Pheasants Forever. "As we drive around Iowa and see some of the last bits of habitat tending to disappear, it makes CRP even more crucial today."
Targeting just the steepest part of a field can increase the chance of an offer's acceptance into CRP. Staff at the USDA Farm Service Center, including NRCS, DNR and PF staff, can provide information on how to effectively use CRP. By targeting specific soil types and subdividing fields, producers may be better able to control soil erosion while gaining some flexibility in tillage practices.
Staff from FSA, along with the NRCS and DNR, can help you find a CRP practice and planting mix that will increase the chances of your offer being accepted into CRP while achieving your goals for wildlife habitat and erosion control.
Offers accepted into the CRP through the bidding process, will become effective Oct. 1, 2012. Nationwide about 6.5 million acres of CRP expire this fall.
For more information on signing up for the general Conservation Reserve Program, please contact your county FSA office or look atwww.fsa.usda.gov. Success stories and more information are also available on the NRCS and DNR websites atwww.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/ andwww.iowadnr.gov/.
DNR Communications Specialist