Landowners and producers enrolled in 21.9 million acres of the Conservation Reserve Program should begin receiving $1.68 billion in annual rental payments, the Department of Agriculture said Thursday.

The CRP program became law in 1985 to control soil erosion and stabilize commodity prices and provides an annual rent payment for land set aside for qualified conservation practices with contracts lasting anywhere from 10 to 15 years.

“Lands enrolled in this program conserve soil, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife, sequester carbon, and benefit agricultural operations,” Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce said.

The payments are issued through acres enrolled in the program's different categories. According to USDA, as of September, 13.18 million acres are enrolled in general CRP contracts, 6.5 million acres are enrolled through continuous signup, 391,519 acres are enrolled in farmable wetland acres, 925,694 acres are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, and 916,974 acres are in grasslands.

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An average CRP rental payment is $82 per acre but can vary in the different programs.

The program received an expanded acreage cap in the 2018 farm bill and will be able to enroll up to 27 million acres by 2023. 

The monthly report also noted 5.3 million CRP acres expired Sept. 30 of this year, 3 million expire next year, and 4 million acres expire Sept. 2022.

In October 2019, the department issued over $1.7 billion in annual rental payments to more than 350,000 producers on more than 22 million enrolled total acres.

For participants with contracts that began this October, the first rental payment will be issued in October 2021.

The program will celebrate its 35th year in December.

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