CRP acres grow to 2.8 million

USDA will accept 2.8 million acres offered by producers under the Conservation Reserve Program 41st general signup period.

The selections preserve and enhance environmentally sensitive lands while providing payments to landowners.

Acceptance of the 2.8 million acres will bring the total program enrollment to 29.9 million acres, leaving sufficient room under the 32 million acre cap to continue enrollment in other federal conservation initiatives, such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, continuous signup program and other CRP initiatives.

The agriculture secretary has asked producers to continue to consider ways to use continuous enrollments to ensure CRP contains those lands that are most erodible and most valuable to wildlife concerns.

Under CRP, producers plant approved species of grasses and trees in crop fields and along streams or rivers.

The plantings reduce soil and nutrients from washing into waterways, reduce soil erosion that may otherwise contribute to poor air and water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife.

The CRP is directly responsible for restoring more than 2 million acres of wetlands and associated buffers and reducing soil erosion by more than 400 million tons per year.

Seventy-five of the 97 offers submitted by Marion County producers earned acceptance into new 10-year CRP contracts, effective Oct. 1.

These new contracts allow 3,687 additional acres into the Marion County CRP. The county average rental rate for accepted contracts is about $41 per acre.

USDA selected offers for enrollment based on an environmental benefits index comprised of specific environmental and cost factors.

The environmental factors considered are wildlife enhancement, air and water quality, and soil erosion.

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Bill Harmon is executive director of the Marion County FSA office.

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