An estimated 4.6 million acres will leave the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) between 2007 and 2010, USDA said on March 9.

The agency had initially announced on March 8 that only 4.1 million acres would be taken out of the CRP. Some 1.8 million acres are covered by contracts that expire on Sept. 30, USDA figures indicated.

Of the 4.6 million acres, 1.4 million are in major corn-producing states, said USDA. An estimated 23.2 million acres out of 27.8 million acres of eligible CRP contracts are expected to be re-enrolled.

Despite the lure of record-high corn prices, landowners have re-enrolled land in the reserve at the same rate as usual, said USDA. “The percentage of landowners choosing to remain in CRP is consistent with what we have seen in the past, despite speculation that re-enrollment would drop significantly due to high corn prices," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

"We are closely monitoring interest in CRP re-enrollment, planting projections and demand for commodities to determine the most appropriate future actions in administering the Conservation Reserve Program," Johanns said.

Livestock groups and foodmakers say more land is needed for crop production to assure adequate supplies.

Johanns has said he will decide by early summer whether to offer an "early out" from CRP contracts. Roughly 10% of U.S. cropland is enrolled in CRP.

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, The Corn And Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.