USDA to Accept 3.9 Mil. Acres in CRP

May 25, 2012 01:37 AM
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Vilsack talks CRP

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USDA said Friday it would accept 3.9 million acres into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP that pays farmers and ranchers for taking environmentally sensitive land out of production.

USDA said the acres would bring total enrollment in the CRP to about 29 million acres as of Oct. 1, the beginning of the government’s 2013 fiscal year.

An estimated 29.6 million acres nationally are currently enrolled in the reserve, with contracts for 6.5 million acres set to expire on Sept. 30.

The figure would still remain below the 32 million acre cap allowed by Congress. The proposed Senate farm bill would phase down the maximum CRP acres to 25 million acres by 2017.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an interview with the Des Moines Register that the 29 million-acre level gives the department the flexibility to add more land to the reserve in the future through programs that target specific areas, such as highly erodible lands or wetland and grassland preservation. “We’re kind of shooting around the 32 million acre range so there is still plenty of leeway,” Vilsack said. “The reality is that this system works.”

USDA received nearly 48,000 offers on more than 4.5 million acres of land during the five-week sign-up period from farmers and ranchers across the country.

Rental payments would average $51.24 an acre.

Comments: The "math" on the CRP data at this point would not appear to line up correctly. As noted, there are currently 29.6 million acres in the CRP and contracts on 6.521 million acres will expire Sept. 30, 2012, which would leave 23.1 million acres in the program. If there are 3.9 million new acres to be enrolled via this signup, that would bring the CRP acreage back to just over 27 million acres. USDA must be counting on two efforts it announced earlier this year to target specific acres for enrollment to push the CRP acreage tally back to "around 29 million." In February, USDA announced it was seeking to enroll 750,000 acres of the most highly erodible cropland into the CRP this summer and in March announced another initiative to enroll 1 million acres of grasslands and wetlands into the program. Both of those initiatives would enroll acres under the continuous signup process where land can be enrolled at any time unlike the general CRP signup where offers are submitted and analyzed on a competitive bid process.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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