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Strong signup for CRP

DANIEL LOOKER 09/14/2010 @ 12:30pm Business Editor

The USDA announced Tuesday that it has accepted 4.3 million acres that were bid into the 39th general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program during the month of August.

The agency had more than 50,000 offers for a total of 4.8 million acres. With 4.5 million acres expiring from the program on September 30, the new signup will bring the total acres enrolled in the CRP to 31.2 million on October 1, the start of the federal fiscal year.

As was the case during the last signup four years ago, the states with the highest enrollment were in the Great Plains, according to Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess and FSA Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs, Brandon Willis.

Part of the reason for higher enrollment in the Great Plains is that land offered there scored high in the Environmental Benefits Index, Coppess said.

“Wind erosion is a very big driver of the EBI and the land that gets accepted into the contract,” Coppess said.

The top three states in this signup were Texas, Colorado and Kansas.

The national average rental rate was about $46 per acre, which was lower than the average of about $53 an acre four years ago. Rates in Corn Belt states were higher, with Iowa’s average at about $165 an acre.

More of the land enrolled this time was highly erodible, 83% compared to 60% four years ago.

The 2008 Farm Bill limits total CRP signup to 32 million acres. By accepting enough in the general signup to bring enrollment to 31.2 million, the USDA is leaving 800,000 acres that can be enrolled in the next fiscal year into the continuous CRP and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

Farmers accepted into this year’s general CRP enrollment will have until the end of this month to sign contracts, usually for ten years. And they will have until the end of this year to have a final conservation plan for that land. 

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