Get Ready to Enroll Your Acres in CRP!


by Chris Clayton, DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — Landowners could still enroll acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program this year despite expectations that CRP could face a 7-million-acre cut in authorized enrollment in the next farm bill.

USDA is planning to announce on Wednesday a general sign-up period for CRP for the third consecutive year.

As of December, USDA reported 29.65 million acres in CRP, including both general and continuous sign-up. That’s down 1.5 million acres from a year ago, and down 4.9 million acres from 2008 when the farm bill was enacted.

Acreage has slipped even though rental rates for CRP land have gone up from a national average of $50.76 an acre to $57.26 an acre over that time.

While many people have championed reducing CRP, the volume of expiring acres this fall indicated that USDA would likely offer a sign-up period. According to USDA, 6.5 million acres could leave the program at the end of September, which is more than double the acreage expirations expected in any year up to 2020.

Further, just 10 states account for 4.85 million acres expiring, or just a hair under 75{962fe9be9a8a5c386944bfa41f48d98b010325707b70b1fa6182bcabd27c5d7f} of those contracts. All of those states suffered major federal disaster declarations in 2011: North Dakota, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Missouri, Minnesota, Washington, Iowa and South Dakota. Only Colorado CRP would have faced a multiple-year step-down to 25 million acres under a farm-bill blueprint created by the House and Senate agriculture committees last fall. While the committees are starting over on the farm bill process, it’s likely that recommendation or one similar will be added to the farm bill, partially to create budget savings.

Hunting and wildlife groups have pushed back against efforts to trim CRP, fearing loss of wildlife habitat. Commodity and production agriculture groups such as the National Grain and Feed Association have policies advocating more investment in conservation on working lands and lowering the acreage cap on CRP.

A fact sheet on USDA’s CRP program can be found at


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Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp


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