Julia A. Wickard, State Executive Director for the Indiana Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced that in Indiana the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept nearly 10,400 acres offered under Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General Sign-up 45 that ended in June. Indiana FSA received just over 600 offers on approximately 12,100 acres of land, demonstrating CRP’s continuing appeal as one of our nation’s most successful voluntary programs for soil, water, and wildlife conservation. Nationally, 1.7 out of 1.9 million acres offered were accepted for enrollment. Since 2009, USDA has enrolled nearly 12 million acres in new CRP. Currently, there are more than 26.9 million acres enrolled on 700,000 contracts nationwide.
USDA selected offers for enrollment based on an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) comprised of five environmental factors plus cost. The five environmental factors are: (1) wildlife enhancement, (2) water quality, (3) soil erosion, (4) enduring benefits, and (5) air quality. This included acreage that was set to expire from CRP on September 30, 2013 as well as some new acres.
Indiana currently has 263,603 acres enrolled in CRP, with 47,659 acres set to expire September 30, 2013. “Indiana County FSA Offices will continue to accept offers to enroll acres in CRP through continuous options,” stated Wickard. “For Indiana this includes not only grassed waterways but practices in our Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) watersheds and State Acres for Wildlife (SAFE).
CRP is a voluntary program that allows eligible landowners to receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource-conserving covers on eligible farmland throughout the duration of their 10 to 15 year contracts.
Under CRP, farmers plant grasses and trees in fields and along streams or rivers. The plantings prevent soil and nutrients from washing into waterways, reduce soil erosion that may otherwise contribute to poor air and water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife. In 2012, CRP helped to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous losses from farm fields by 605 million pounds and 121 million pounds respectively. CRP has restored more than two million acres of wetlands and associated buffers and reduces soil erosion by more than 300 million tons per year. CRP also provides $2.0 billion annually to landowners – dollars that make their way into local economies, supporting small businesses and creating jobs.
In addition, CRP sequesters more carbon dioxide than any other conservation program in the country, and also reduces both fuel and fertilizer use. Yearly, CRP results in carbon sequestration equal to taking almost 10 million cars off the road.
Indiana producers or landowners who are interested in more information regarding CRP should contact their local FSA County Office or visit FSA online at: www.fsa.usda.gov