OMAHA (DTN) -- Highlighting the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), USDA announced the program has paid out $1.77 billion this month to landowners in the program.
CRP acreage under the Biden administration has increased 4.3 million acres since early 2021 to 24.8 million acres now, a 21% bump.
With new contract enrollments starting with the 2024 fiscal year in October, USDA added 2.12 million acres this year.
Acreage has risen even though the average overall rental rate in the program has declined $6.73 per acre over that time. The average rental rate is $78.20 per acre.
CRP is actually a combination of set-aside programs. It includes the General Program, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and Continuous CRP (non-CREP), Wetlands and Grassland programs.
General sign-up takes up 8.38 million acres, Continuous CRP involves 7.18 million acres and the Grasslands Program includes 6.35 million acres.
USDA cites improvements to the program, which include increasing payments for practice incentives from 20% to 50% to help boost enrollment. USDA introduced new climate-smart incentives for both the General and Continuous enrollments to help sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. USDA also increased payment rates for water-quality practices as well for grassed waterways, riparian buffers and filter strips.
While acreage has increased, USDA statistics from August show there are now 17,864 fewer CRP contracts since January 2021, a 3.2% decrease to 545,653 contracts, as of August 2023. The number of farms participating also fell 4.2% to 305,816 farms.
USDA's acreage reports for CRP lag two months behind.
CRP acreage has grown over the past two-plus years by shifting acreage from General signup to CREP and Grassland acres.
General CRP acres have declined by 3 million acres overall.
The Grassland CRP has grown from 1.86 million acres in January 2021 to 6.35 million acres now. USDA attributes that to boosting the minimum rental rates of the Grasslands program for more than 1,000 counties. The average Grasslands rental rate has gone from $12.73 an acre to $15.57 an acre.
Top five states for CRP participant payments:
-- Iowa, $402,508,900
-- Illinois, $172,723,800
-- Minnesota, $150,773,400
-- South Dakota, $129,545,200
-- Missouri, $99,849,600
Top five states for CRP acreage (as of August):
-- Colorado, 2.45 million acres
-- Texas, 2.157 million acres
-- South Dakota, 2.1 million acres
-- Nebraska, 1.84 million acres
-- Kansas, 1.82 million acres
Top five states for CRP rental rates (as of August):
-- Maryland, $242.88 per acre
-- Iowa, $238.42 per acre
-- Ohio, $223.12 per acre
-- Illinois, $213.57 per acre
-- Indiana, $206.71 per acre
Five states with the lowest CRP rental rates (as of August):
-- Nevada, $10.12 per acre
-- Arizona, $13.70 per acre
-- Wyoming, $15.97 per acre
-- New Mexico, $18.44 per acre
-- Idaho, $20.59 per acre
More CRP data can be found at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/….
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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