With the expiration of the 2014 farm bill and no new farm bill in place as of Oct. 1, one of the most high-profile programs impacted will be the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). According to Jim Wiesemeyer, Pro Farmer policy analyst, the program is now on hold, with an acreage total that will fall below to well below the 24-million-acre cap in the 2014 Farm Bill.
“Until a new farm bill is passed or the current law is extended, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will not approve any new CRP contracts or process offers for enrollment for all CRP signup types, and they will not authorize any CRP contract revisions or corrections,” he says. “Payments under the CRP program will be issued early this month, but that will be about the extent of what can happen.”
CRP contracts covering 1.42 million acres expired as of Sept. 30.
“But that figure also could be impacted by the number of CRP contract holders opting to take a one-year extension offered to those with expiring contracts of 14 years or less. This suggests the 21.21 million acres would be a minimum level of ground that would be in the CRP as of Oct. 1,” Wiesemeyer says.
The CRP has been part of farm bill conference debate, both the House and Senate propose expanding the acreage cap and are seeking a cap on the amount of rent paid to contract holders.
“The Senate version would limit rental rates under CRP to 88.5% of estimated rental rates while the House would cap CRP rents at 80% of the National Ag Statistics Service estimated county rental rates, with those levels recalculated annually,” Wiesemeyer says. “Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has stated that the 80% cap in the House is too low and would stymie participation in the program.”
Current CRP rental payments total $1.85 billion at average of $81.59 per acre. Of that total, 13.99 million have been enrolled via general signups at an average of $52.15 per acre for a total of $729.75 million. Another 8.10 million acres have been enrolled via continuous signup efforts at an average of $136.78 per acre for a total of $1.11 billion.