Local officials are reminding farmers and land owners that the deadline to enroll land into the Farm Service Agency's general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign up is April 15.

"Individuals who are interested in signing up should come into our office now," says Erin Myers, County Executive Director for the Mitchell County FSA Office. "Making offers for enrollment into this program takes time, so producers should not wait if they are interested, they should get started now."

Interested participants are encouraged to contact the Mitchell County FSA Office to begin the sign up process or to complete it. Offers must be completed in their entirety by the end of sign up, April 15 in order to be considered eligible. "We want to make sure that everyone who wants to enroll into this program has the opportunity, so producers need to allow themselves adequate time before sign up ends," added Erin.

Following sign-up, all offers for CRP will be evaluated and ranked using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) for the environmental benefits to be gained from enrolling the land in CRP. The EBI consists of five environmental factors (wildlife, water, soil, air, and enduring benefits) and a cost factor. Decisions on the EBI cutoff will be made after the sign-up ends and after analyzing the EBI data of all the offers.

CRP is the largest voluntary private-land conservation program. It helps farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural producers use their environmentally sensitive land for conservation purposes. In return for offering the land, the Farm Service Agency provides participants rental payments, and cost share on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation.

For more information on CRP, please contact the Mitchell County FSA office or the website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

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