Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced last weekend at Pheasant Fest in Des Moines, Iowa, that USDA will hold a sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) this year.
It would be the first general sign-up since 2006 and will likely take place in late spring or early summer, targeting those acres most useful in the land set-aside program.
The 2008 Farm Bill reduced the cap on CRP acres to 32 million acres. The program is supported by wildlife and environmental groups and, more recently, by those who are concerned about carbon sequestration and climate change.
Last October, Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess testified to a House Agriculture Committee subcommittee that the 2010 fiscal year began with 31 million acres in CRP, down 2.6 million from a year prior.
He said contracts for about 15.3 million acres were set to expire between fiscal years 2010 and 2012, and that between general and continuous sign-ups, the Agency expects to maintain CRP enrollment at around 32 million acres through 2012.
More on the CRP program is available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CRP/.