New CRP sign up scheduled for spring 2006

At the time of this writing, this is how the new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is expected to be administered for 2006. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced that CRP contract re-enrollments and extensions will be offered to those participants with contracts scheduled to expire in the years 2007 through 2010. Beginning in the spring of 2006, producers with expiring CRP contracts will be notified, in writing by USDA's National Office, of the status of their expiring CRP contract and re-enrollment or extension options. Cimarron County currently has 158,328 acres enrolled in CRP, of that total; 153,294 acres are scheduled to expire in 2007.

The new program will deal only with land that is currently enrolled in CRP. Participants with CRP contracts scheduled to expire September 2007 through 2010 will be offered either of the following:

· Re-enrollment of all or any portion of the expiring CRP contract to a new 10 year contract.

· Extension of all or any portion of the expiring CRP contract for a period of 2, 3, 4, or 5 years.

If you currently have land in CRP this could be beneficial to you. If you are not currently enrolled in CRP you will have to wait for the next general CRP signup to get new land enrolled.

Determinations about whether a participant is offered a contract extension or re-enrollment will be based on the environmental benefit index (EBI) that was used to rank a producer's CRP offer at the time they enrolled. Under the new program producers will be ranked according to the following percentage scale going from highest to lowest:

· 0% to 20% - eligible to re-enroll in a new 10 year CRP contract.

· 20% to 40% - eligible for a 5 year contract extension.

· 40% to 60% - eligible for a 4 year contract extension.

· 60% to 80% - eligible for a 3 year contract extension.

· 80% to 100% - eligible for a 2 year contract extension.

Where your CRP contract ranks within these categories will be explained in the letter you receive from the USDA National Office in the spring of 2006.

As with any program there is good news and bad news. The good news is that 128,080 acres currently enrolled in CRP will either get to re-enroll or extend their contracts. The bad news is that there are 30,248 acres that will not be eligible to re-enroll or extend their CRP contracts under the new program.

Cimarron county has approximately 512,320 cropland acres, of which 31% or 158,328 acres are currently enrolled in CRP. Under the new CRP provisions only 25% of the county's total cropland, or 128,080 acres, will be eligible to re-enroll or receive an extension. This means that there will be 30,248 acres that will not be eligible to re-enroll or extend their CRP contract in the new program.

Producers will be required to meet CRP requirements on the expiring contract before approval of contract re-enrollment or extension. Before approval of any offer for re-enrollment or extension, an on site visit will be made to all expiring CRP contracts to make sure that they are in compliance. The on site visit is to determine that the existing cover on land to be re-enrolled or extended is in compliance with the approved conservation plan which includes the control of noxious weeds, insects, and pests.

This means that weeds, trees, and other undesirable vegetation that are not part of the approved cover are unacceptable on CRP acres. The approved CRP cover is the vegetative cover that was established on the land with cost share from the FSA office.

Beginning spring of 2006, producers with expiring CRP contracts will be notified, in writing by USDA's National Office, of the status of the expiring CRP contract and their re-enrollment or extension options.

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