A four-week enrollment period for participation in the Conservation Reserve Program will be held from May 20 to June 14.
During that time, farmers will apply to participate in the long-term program, which allows them to plant cover crops to protect environmentally vulnerable land.
“It continues to be our goal to ensure that we use CRP to address our most critical resource issues,” said Scherrie Giamanco, Illinois State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. “It 2012, Illinois experienced the worst drought in 50 years. CRP protected environmentally sensitive lands from washing or blowing away. It gave ranchers extra grazing land when they needed it.
"I expect that there will be strong competition to enroll acres into CRP, so I urge producers to maximize their environmental benefits and make sure their offers are cost-effective.”
In addition to erosion control, CRP provides significant water quality benefits, including reduced nutrients and sediment loadings and adverse consequences associated with floods, as well as expanded and enhanced wildlife habitat.
Currently, about 27 million acres are enrolled in CRP nationwide, with more than 1 million of those acres in Illinois. CRP is a voluntary program available to agriculture producers, to help them safeguard sensitive land. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving cover crops to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and enhance wildlife habitat.
Contracts on an estimated 3.3 million acres of CRP nationwide are set to expire on Sept. 30, and more than 186,000 of those acres are in Illinois. Producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.
For more information on CRP and other FSA programs, visit your local FSA office or go to www.fsa.usda.gov.