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CRP summits planned for Colorado producers

Colorado

Two meetings are scheduled to educate Colorado farmers and ranchers about upcoming changes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Farm Service Agency's Conservation Reserve Program.

The CRP is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners. Through CRP, ag producers can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. CRP protects millions of acres of American topsoil from erosion and is designed to safeguard the Nation's natural resources. Acreage enrolled in the CRP is planted to resource-conserving vegetative covers, making the program a major contributor to increased wildlife populations in many parts of the country.

Over two million acres of Colorado grasslands are currently listed within the CRP with contracts expiring through 2013. Due to changes in the 2008 farm bill, agricultural producers having these grasslands may find little opportunity to re-enroll their land in the CRP.

"If a large portion of these expiring CRP acres go back into cropland, Colorado will lose many of its important conservation benefits accrued over the lifetime of the contracts that established these grasslands including reduced soil erosion and improved wildlife habitat," said Mark Cronquist, Colorado Department of Agriculture's conservation specialist. "However, if some of the expiring CRP lands are kept in grass and managed for other uses, many of the conservation benefits realized during the CRP contracts could be maintained or enhanced."

The CRP summits, hosted by the Colorado State Conservation Board and the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts, will provide a broad range of information as producers decide how to use their CRP lands. There is no charge to attend these events.

--May 14

Morgan Community College, Founders Room, Fort Morgan

--May 15

Lamar Community College, Bowman Bldg., Large Lecture Hall, Lamar

An agenda is available by visiting www.colorado.gov/ag. Click on "CRP Summits."

Partners involved in planning these Summits include the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Association of Conservation Districts, Colorado State Conservation Board, Colorado Farm Service Agency, Colorado Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado State University, Colorado State University Extension, Morgan Conservation District, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, Pheasants Forever, Environmental Defense Fund, and AgriTech Consulting.



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