South Carolina farmers and land owners, who are currently enrolled in conservation reserve programs (CRP), or newcomers wanting to sign up for the Federal program will have 19 days, beginning March 27 and ending April 14 to participate in General CRP Sign-Up 33.

According to Ken Rentiers, state executive director, South Carolina Farm Service Agency (FSA) sign up for this program will be limited to the March 27-April 14 window of time and no late-filed offers will be accepted.

CRP Sign-up 33 is offered for those acres currently enrolled in CRP and set to expire Sept. 30, 2006 as well as eligible cropland never before enrolled in CRP.

The Conservation Reserve Program is designed to retire environmentally sensitive cropland from production. Eligible producers are those who have owned or operated the land offered for 12 months prior to the close of signup. Owners must provide the FSA County Office will a copy of their deed.

Eligible land

Eligible land is cropland that has been planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity four of the years 1996 to 2001 and is physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner.

The cropland offered for CRP must meet one of the following criteria: have a weighted erosion index of 8 or higher; current CRP acreage expiring Sept. 2006; or be located in a national or state conservation priority area.

Two-thirds of the state has been approved as a National Longleaf Priority Area. The soils must be suitable for planting longleaf. Suitable soils listings are available in the local USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

Suitable soils are generally sandy, well drained soils.

Producers with approved CRP contracts will receive cost-share assistance to establish a permanent cover on the environmentally sensitive cropland and receive annual rental payments for a 10 to 15 year period.

Rentiers stresses that all offers for CRP will compete nationally for acceptance into the program. He adds that the South Carolina signup will be extremely competitive.