With the prospect of a continuation of one of the worst droughts in nearly 50 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reminding farmers and ranchers of some of the programs they offer that may help to mitigate effects of the drought.

Last month, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new sign-up for the Conserve Reserve Program (CRP) beginning May 20 and ending on June 14.

The CRP has been protecting the nation's natural resources through voluntary participation for the past 27 years, and provided significant environmental benefits to rural communities and the nation.

Secretary Vilsack pointed out, "Last year, during one of the worst droughts in generations, the CRP proved vital in protecting our most environmentally sensitive lands from erosion. Emergency haying and grazing on CRP lands also supplied critical feed and forage for livestock producers due to the drought."

Currently, about 27 million acres are enrolled in CRP.