Val Dolcini, State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in California announced that contracts for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for fiscal year 2012 have been awarded. In California, 114,199 acres have been accepted into CRP this year and over the 25 years of the program, California CRP conservation contracts have earned over $144 million for rural property owners and producers.

During the 41st general CRP signup conducted in the spring, more than 38,000 CRP offers were received on approximately 3.8 million acres nationwide. USDA accepted enrollment of 2.8 million acres bringing the total program enrollment to 29.9 million acres.

"The accepted CRP contracts continue the past twenty-five years of program success by providing a low risk opportunity to implement a variety of conservation practices on environmentally sensitive land in California," said Dolcini. "CRP practices improve water and air quality, increase wildlife habitat and prevent soil erosion," he said.

Success in CRP is measureable and has made a difference. According to Dolcini, since its inception 25 years ago, CRP acres have resulted in an eight billion ton reduction in soil erosion, restoration of two million acres of wetlands and adjacent buffers, vegetative protection of more than 200,000 stream bank buffers and significant increases in upland wildlife numbers which translates to recreational dollars for many rural economies.

Landowners enrolled in CRP receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Accepted contracts are effective Oct. 1, 2011.

All CRP offers were evaluated and ranked using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) that indicates the environmental benefits of enrolling land in CRP. There are five environmental factors that make up the EBI:  wildlife, water, soil, air, enduring benefits and cost.

For more information about the Conservation Reserve Program, please contact your nearest County FSA Office or visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.