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Call By Friday For Farm Conservation Program

Prairie Strips are part of a new practice under the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program’s Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers, or CLEAR, Initiative. Photo: Lynn Betts/USDA

RALEIGH – Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program general signup for 2020 must make an offer of acres or schedule an appointment to do so with their local USDA service center by Friday.

The general signup, which opened in December, is available to producers and private landowners who are either offering for the first time or re-offering acres for another 10- to 15-year term in the 35-year-old conservation program.

One initiative under the program is the The Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers, or CLEAR, Initiative, which prioritizes water quality practices on the land that can help reduce sediment loading, nutrient loading and harmful algal blooms.

“Call your FSA county office today to make an appointment to sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program,” Acting State Executive Director Rob Satterfield said. “As long as you have an appointment scheduled, your CRP offer will be able to compete in this general signup, even if the appointment is in the first week of March. This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want to make sure interested producers and landowners take advantage of this popular conservation program.”

Farmers and ranchers who enroll land in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, known as “covers,” which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.

CRP currently has about 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill raises the cap to 27 million acres in fiscal year 2023. The cap for fiscal 2020 is 24.5 million acres.

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U.S. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion by taking marginal lands out of production.

Visit farmers.gov/service-locator to find the nearest FSA county office.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.