USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director and Acting FSA Administrator Val Dolcini reminds California rural landowners and producers that a general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) ends April 15, 2011. During this sign-up period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land through the local Farm Service Agency county office.

Farm Service Agency is celebrating the 25th year of the Conservation Reserve Program,” said Dolcini. “During these many years, CRP has been tremendously successful in improving wildlife habitat and the environmental quality of our land, air and water resources. These resources are the treasures of our rural landscape.”

CRP is a voluntary program that allows environmentally sensitive land be used for conservation benefits. Producers accepted in the program plant long-term, resource conserving vegetative covers in exchange for rental payments, cost share and technical assistance. By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP protects groundwater and improves the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. The vegetative covers offers improved wildlife habitat, making it a major contributor to the increase in wildlife population.

FSA evaluates and ranks eligible land offered for CRP using the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). The EBI review looks at five environmental factors: wildlife, water, soil, air and enduring benefits, as well as cost. The land is ranked based on which would offer the greatest environmental benefits.

In addition to this general sign-up, CRP’s continuous sign-up program is ongoing. Continuous acres represent the most environmentally desirable and sensitive land. For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.