The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

USDA sending out $1.7 billion in CRP payments

The Agriculture Department is distributing $1.7 billion in annual Conservation Reserve Program payments for 417,000 farms throughout the country, USDA’s Farm Service Agency said late last week.

The CRP pays farmers to idle marginally productive land to reduce soil erosion and provide habitat for game and non-game wildlife species. The 2008 farm bill allows up to 32 million acres in the program, but as commodity prices have risen farmers have been more inclined to put land in production and the current enrollment stands at 29.9 million acres.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., has proposed lowering that limit to 24 million acres in the next farm bill, but conservation and wildlife groups have discouraged lowering the authorized level.

Iowa gets the highest total of payments, $212 million, but other states have more acres enrolled. See chart below.

Producers holding 752,000 contracts on 417,000 farms will receive an average CRP rental payment of $55.06 per acre, FSA said in an news release Thursday. Producers will earn an average payment of $4,115 per farm enrolled in the program.

Included in the totals are 414,000 contracts (5.1 million acres) for continuous CRP enrollments and 338,000 contracts (24.8 million acres) enrolled under general CRP.

The Commodity Credit Corporation makes annual rental payments based on the agriculture rental value of the land, and it provides cost-share assistance for up to 50 percent of the participant’s costs in establishing approved conservation practices.

USDA also issues non-rental CRP payments throughout the year. These payments include a 50 percent expense reimbursement for establishing and managing cover as well as incentive payments for enrolling eligible high priority conservation practices.

The table below lists acreage enrollments by state, number of contracts, number of farms, acres enrolled as of the end of the 2011 fiscal year, and CRP projected rental payments for fiscal year 2012.