2010 General Signup Increased Iowa CRP Acres

2010 General Signup Increased Iowa CRP Acres

USDA held a general signup for Conservation Reserve Program in August 2010. Iowa landowners enrolled 128,000 acres this year, more than enough to offset the 117,000 acres in expiring contracts as of Sept. 30.

FAQ: What were results of the recent CRP general signup in Iowa? How does Iowa compare nationally regarding the CRP program in 2010?

Answer: Provided by Vickie Friedow, conservation program specialist, Farm Service Agency state office in Des Moines.

Iowa landowners are enrolling 128,000 acres in the Conservation Reserve Program this year, enough to more than offset the 117,000 acres in CRP contracts that expired at the end of September. Iowa now has 1.64 million total acres in the program, which pays landowners to keep highly erodible land out of row crop production for 10 to 15 years. CRP land is seeded down to grass or other FSA-approved conservation cover such as trees.

Signing up the new CRP acreage during the recent signup period which ended August 27 cost the government more than it has in the past. The average annual payment for the new CRP acreage in Iowa is $165 an acre, well over the national average of $46 per acre for new contracts and this is the highest rate of any state.

Nationally, the CRP program lost 4.5 million acres at the end of September 2010 due to expiring CRP contracts. The program is enrolling 4.3 million acres as a result of the 2010 general signup. That will bring total U.S. enrollment in CRP to 31.2 million acres, which is enough to get close to the program's 32-million acre cap while leaving room for additional acres of especially sensitive land to be added to the program.

Land can be enrolled in CRP through the general signup which is held periodically, or through a continuous signup. The continuous signup is for especially sensitive areas, such as installing buffer strips next to streams. Texas, which is enrolling 858,000 acres in 2010, Colorado and Kansas led in the number of acres accepted by USDA for the 2010 general CRP signup period.

Q: Why is the Iowa CRP payment rate so much higher than the national average? How does FSA determine which bids are selected for the land to enter the program?

A: The average rental rate for CRP land in Iowa this past signup was $165 per acre and the national average was $46. The high payment rate for CRP land in Iowa reflects the high value of farmland in the state. That's largely because of the relatively high prices farmers can get today for the corn and soybeans they grow. USDA has to pay more to attract Iowa land into the CRP.

Landowners submit bids to USDA, offering their land for enrollment. USDA selects the offers for enrollment based on an Environmental Benefits Index or EBI comprised of five environmental factors plus costs. The factors are wildlife benefit, water quality, soil erosion, enduring benefits, and air quality.

The 2010 general sign-up was the 39th for the program and more than 50,000 offers were received by USDA on more than 4.8 million acres nationwide.

If you have specific questions or need details regarding USDA farm programs, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office. You can also get news and information about DCP, ACRE and other USDA programs at www.fsa.usda.gov.

Two Iowa State University Extension Web sites have farm program information and analysis. They are ISU's Ag Decision Maker site at www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm and ISU Extension Specialist Steve Johnson's site at www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/farmmanagement.htm.

And be sure to read the regular column "Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm Program" that appears in each issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine and at www.WallacesFarmer.com

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