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New CCRP signup begins June 3

One of America's most popular agricultural conservation programs is taking applications again, albeit on a restricted scale.

The Continuous Conservation Reserve Program, often known as the CCRP, reopens June 3 and will remain open through Aug. 23.

The Farm Service Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, quit taking applications for the CCRP last fall after the expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill, the centerpiece of U.S. food and ag policy. This new sign-up period, known as Signup 52, is the first opportunity to apply for CCRP since the new farm bill was passed this winter, according to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization describes itself as "an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities."

But only a portion of the conservation practices normally supported by CCRP will be authorized under Signup 52, according to the coalition.

In Signup 52, "eligible practices are limited to a specific set of practices with direct water quality benefits," the coalition said.

The list of eligible practices include filter strips, conservation buffers and grass waterways.

A little background on the CCRP:

The better-known Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, allows participating farmers to take marginal cropland out of production in return for rental payments. The land is placed in grasses and sometimes trees to conserve soil, protect water quality and provide wildlife habitat. There are specific sign-up periods for CRP, which includes a competitive ranking process.

CCRP is an offshoot of CRP. It pays farmers to install partial field conservation practices, primarily buffers, to protect soil and water quality and wildlife habitat. In contrast to CRP, land normally can be enrolled in CCRP at any time, which accounts for the "continuous" in its name. And unlike CRP, CCRP doesn't have a competitive ranking process.

To offer land for continuous enrollment, producers should contact their local FSA office.

More information on CCRP.: