USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program Grants Available Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking grant applicants for the 2012 Farmers Market Promotion Program. Approximately $10 million is available for marketing operations such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture and road-side stands. The grants, which are administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), are available through a competitive application process on www.grants.gov. The grants aim to increase the availability of local agricultural products in communities throughout the county. They will also help strengthen farmer-to-consumer marketing efforts. Information on applying for a Farmers Market Promotion Program grant will be published in the April 6, 2012, Federal Register and available online at www.ams.usda.gov/FMPP. Applications will only be accepted via grants.gov (see above) and must be received by May 21, 2012. Contact Carmen Humphrey, Program Manager, by phone: (202) 720-8317, or e-mail: email@example.com for more information. USDA Extends CRP General Sign Up to April 13 The USDA Farm Service Agency announced this week that the current Conservation Reserve Program sign up has been extended by one week to April 13, 2012. The agency cited strong interest in the current CRP sign up period as the reason for an extension. After the CRP general sign-up ends on April 13, FSA will evaluate offers based on cost and the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). The EBI takes into consideration variables such as wildlife habitat, water quality protection, soil erosion reduction, air quality protection and other enduring benefits. Accepted offers will become effective Oct. 1, 2012. More information is available from FSA at rel="nofollow" http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/newsReleases?area=newsroom&subject=landing&topic=ner&newstype=newsrel&type=detail&item=nr_20120404_rel_0039.html.