Conservation Reserve rental rates fall by $8 an acre for new land
The USDA will pay an annual rent of $55 an acre on land entering the Conservation Reserve through the recently completed signup, a drop of $8 an acre from the last time landowners idled large tracts of land in the reserve, said a USDA spokeswoman on Wednesday. The 2018 Farm Bill set payments at 85% of the local rental rate for farmland, and analysts said the lower rates may have discouraged enrollments.
Created in 1985, the Conservation Reserve Program pays landowners an annual rent in exchange for taking fragile land out of crop production for 10 years or more. Some 22 million acres are enrolled at present, with contracts on 5.4 million acres set to expire on September 30. The USDA accepted 3.4 million acres in the general signup that ended on February 28. The average rate of $55 for the new land is lower than the average of $63 an acre for land in the previous general enrollment, held in 2016, and $64 for a 2013 general enrollment.
“At this point, we cannot say where enrollment will be in October, as continuous signup and grasslands enrollments are still ongoing,” said the spokeswoman.
The 2018 Farm Bill says a maximum of 24.5 million acres can be enrolled this year, on the way to a ceiling of 27 million acres in 2023. The previous cap was 24 million acres. On Tuesday, two University of Illinois economists estimated an enrollment of 22.5 million acres this year.