USDA signs up 1.7 million CRP acres
Ag land continues to shrink as more land is set aside for conservation.
USDA will accept 1.7 million acres offered under the 45th Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in Ames, IA, on July 22.
The department received nearly 28,000 offers on more than 1.9 million acres of land, according to a USDA news release. USDA has enrolled nearly 12 million acres in new CRP contracts since 2009. Currently, there are more than 26.9 million acres enrolled on 700,000 contracts.
Over the last four years, USDA has set aside significant acreage under the CRP - Continuous Signup enrollment programs to target habitat conservation on especially important lands.
This year, farmers and ranchers have already offered more than 370,000 acres under CRP signup, a figure that is impressive given that the lack of a farm bill extension last fall meant that CRP enrollment only reopened this spring in May.
CRP is a voluntary program that allows eligible landowners to receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource-conserving covers on eligible farmland throughout the duration of their 10-15-year contracts.
In 2012, CRP helped to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous losses from farm fields by 605 million pounds and 121 million pounds, respectively, the news release stated. CRP has restored more than 2 million acres of wetlands and associated buffers and reduces soil erosion by more than 300 million tons per year, according to the release. — DTN