CRP enrollment signup period is from March 27 to April 14

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency will hold its 33rd Conservation Reserve Program enrollment signup in all county offices nationwide from March 27 to April 14.

Land that is not yet enrolled in CRP, as well as those CRP contracts expiring on Sept. 30, 2006, may submit signup offers.

To submit offers, producers need to make appointments to visit their local FSA offices. Contact the Marion County FSA office at 620-382-3714.

To be eligible for CRP, a producer must have owned or operated land for at least 12 months prior to the end of the designated CRP signup period.

CRP land must be cropland that has been planted or considered planted to an agricultural crop in four of the previous six crop years from 1996 to 2001, and which is capable of being planted in a normal manner.

In addition, the eligible land must meet at least one of the following standards:

have a weighted average erosion index of 8 or higher;

be expiring CRP acreage;

be located in a national or state conservation priority area; (The northern portion of Marion County is a part of the Kansas Greater Prairie Chicken CPA.)

FSA will rank offers for CRP signup 33 according to the Environmental Benefits Index. EBI factors are based on environmental indices for the acres offered.

After the signup ends, national CRP officials will determine EBI thresholds for accepting CRP offers for participation. Producers may request information from FSA on how to maximize EBI points to increase the likelihood that their offer can be accepted.

Accepted CRP participants earn annual rental payments, including certain incentive payments and cost-share assistance.

CRP is a voluntary program helping producers safeguard environmentally sensitive land. CRP producers plant long-term resource conserving covers to control soil erosion, improve water and air quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.

In return, FSA provides contract payments for a period between 10 to 15 years.

Producers are reminded that the deadline for requesting 2005 crop Commodity Credit Corp. marketing assistance loans for small grains such as wheat and oats is March 31.

Under this loan program, producers may store their harvested crops on the farm or in warehouse elevators as loan collateral for nine month terms.

The distinct advantage of a marketing assistance loan is the immediate accessibility to a funding source that can be used to help pay the normal expenses of managing a farm enterprise.

We salute the hard working men and women of Marion County agriculture during National Agriculture Week, March 19-25.

Bill Harmon is executive director of the Marion County FSA office.

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