Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) Michael Scuse has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a four-week Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general signup, beginning on March 12 and ending on April 6.

CRP has a 25-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation's natural resources through voluntary participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the United States.

"It is USDA's goal to ensure that we use CRP to address our most critical resource issues," said Scuse.

"CRP is an important program for protecting our most environmentally sensitive lands from erosion and sedimentation, and for ensuring the sustainability of our groundwater, lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. As always, we expect strong competition to enroll acres into CRP, and we urge interested producers to maximize their environmental benefits and to make cost-effective offers."

CRP is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits.

Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and develop wildlife habitat. In return, USDA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance.

Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years.

Producers with expiring contracts and producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP. Producers also are encouraged to look into CRP's other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, non-competitive, signup basis.