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CRP sign-ups exceed estimates

The USDA has announced that more farmers than expected signed up for the government program that allows landowners to idle acreage for conservation.
Some 3.0 million new acres were placed in the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, and 600,000 acres were denied entrance into the program, the Wall Street Journal blog “Real Time Economics” reported recently.
Still, the number of acres will soon be reduced considerably, as 6.5 million acres are coming out of the program this fall, according to the blog post.
Interest in the program was so high, a USDA spokesman said, the agency extended the time period to allow farmers to get their applications filed.
A guaranteed return on land is appealing to farmers, especially if the land isn’t well suited for planting crops, said Todd Davis, a senior economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The USDA is anxious to enroll new acres in the program that is aimed at protecting environmentally sensitive land because on Sept. 30 the contracts that keep about 6.5 million acres of potential farm land idle will expire. Contracts take land out of production, thus conserving soil, for either 10 or 15 years.
Many fear the CRP will lose further ground during the debate on the upcoming Farm Bill, as Harvest Public Media reported in October 2011.
– Harvest Public Media

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