Focus on Agriculture

USDA has announced that 1.188 million acres of cropland were accepted for enrollment into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) during general CRP Signup #29, which ended on September 29. This represented 76% of the 1.672 million acres that were offered in this CRP sign-up by landowners.

USDA utilizes the “Environmental Benefits Index” (EBI) to rank CRP enrollment requests and to make to final selection of land parcels accepted for CRP enrollment. The EBI takes into account environmental factors such as soil erosion, water quality, enduring benefits, air quality, and wildlife enhancement, as well as the contract cost.

The CRP contracts that were accepted this year will be initiated on October 1, in either 2005 or 2006, and will be either 10 or 15-year contracts.

As of October 1, 2005, the total CRP acres in the U.S. will be 35.6 million acres. The 2002 Farm Bill authorized CRP enrollment up to 39.2 million acres in the U.S. This leaves slightly more than 3 million CRP acres remaining for USDA to use for Continuous CRP sign-ups, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) program, and other special conservation initiatives. Minnesota had 1253 CRP offers accepted, representing 33,207 acres in the latest CRP sign-up. The states with the highest CRP acreage accepted during the recent sign-up period were Kansas with 239,950 acres, Texas with 112,698 acres and Montana with 105,295 acres.

For more information on the CRP program, landowners should contact their local NRCS office.

Editors note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.