ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BILL HARMON
Landowners with Conservation Reserve Program contracts expiring on Sept. 30, 2007 have received an important, time-limited offer from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.
Program participants will be offered contract re-enrollments, or extensions, designed to keep environmentally sensitive land in this conservation program.
Between 2007 and 2010, more than 400,000 CRP contracts covering 28 million acres nationally will expire. The agency’s goal is to keep as much of that land in the CRP as possible, so a 10- or 15-year contract re-enrollment for selected lands and up to five-year extensions for other contracts are being offered.
Each eligible CRP participant with a contract expiring on Sept. 30, 2007, has received a letter from their FSA county office explaining the offer and outlining their options. They have until April 14, 2006 to accept their particular offer.
Marion County has 14 contracts eligible for re-enrollment opportunities and 154 contracts entitled to sign up for specific two- to five-year extension periods of the current contract. These 168 CRP contracts represent 6,660 acres.
Whether participants are offered a new CRP contract or an extension of the current contract depends upon the contract’s Environmental Benefits Index score when the land was initially enrolled in CRP.
EBI is a ranking of the lands contribution to improving soil erosion, water quality, air quality, trees, and wildlife habitat.
The aspects of the offers made to participants cannot be changed. Producers cannot add additional land, increase or decrease the extension time or extend a contract beyond what is authorized.
Bill Harmon is executive director of the Marion County FSA office in Marion.