The United States Department of Agriculture has announced acceptance of 1.7 million acres offered under the Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up.

Under the 45th general sign-up, 28,000 offers were made on more than 1.9 million  acres of land.

According to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, this demonstrates CRP’s continuing appeal as one of our nations’s most successful voluntary programs for soil, water and wildlife conservation.

Under Vilsack's leadership, USDA has enrolled nearly 12 million acres in new CRP contracts since 2009. Currently, there are more than 26.9 million acres enrolled on 700,000 contracts.

"For 27 years, lands in CRP have helped to conserve our nation's resources and played a part in mitigating climate change," said Vilsack. "American farmers and ranchers continue to recognize the importance of protecting our nation's most environmentally sensitive land by enrolling in CRP.

“As the commodities produced by our farmers and ranchers continue to perform strongly in the marketplace — supporting one out of every 12 jobs here in the United States — it is no surprise that American producers continue to recognize the importance of protecting our nation's most environmentally sensitive land by enrolling in CRP."

Under CRP, farmers and ranchers plant grasses and trees in fields and along streams or rivers. The plantings prevent soil and nutrients from washing into waterways, reduce soil erosion that may otherwise contribute to poor air and water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife.

In 2012, CRP helped to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous losses from farm fields by 605 million pounds and 121 million pounds respectively.

CRP has restored more than two million acres of wetlands and associated buffers and reduced soil erosion by more than 300 million tons per year.

CRP also provides $2.0 billion annually to landowners-dollars that make their way into local economies, supporting small businesses and creating jobs.

In addition, CRP sequesters more carbon dioxide than any other conservation program in the country, and also reduces both fuel and fertilizer use. Yearly, CRP results in carbon sequestration equal to taking almost 10 million cars off the road.

USDA selected offers for enrollment based on an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) comprised of five environmental factors plus cost. The five environmental factors are: (1) wildlife enhancement, (2) water quality, (3) soil erosion, (4) enduring benefits, and (5) air quality.

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