USDA’s Farm Service Agency is extending the general signup period for the Conservation Reserve Program so it can look at ways to close an approximately 3-million-acre gap between the amount enrolled for 2021 and the CRP cap of 25 million acres.
There is no deadline right now on enrollment, said Steve Peterson, associate administrator of the Farm Service Agency.
“It's kind of until further notice,” he said, because the new administration “is really looking to do an analysis of some of the incentives and some of the program provisions to see if they can close some of the gap.” Currently, he said 21.9 million acres are enrolled.
Asked what kind of changes producers might expect, Peterson mentioned rental rates as well as incentives for certain conservation practices or water quality measures.
“By extending this signup period, we’ll have time to evaluate and implement changes to get this neglected program back on track,” said Robert Bonnie, deputy chief of staff in the Office of the Secretary, in a news release issued Friday.
Producers who enrolled after the signup began Jan. 4 will be able to renegotiate their contracts to take advantage of any new provisions in the program, Peterson said.
He said there’s no firm timeline on when those changes might be announced. Peterson said FSA is waiting until it has a new agriculture secretary; Tom Vilsack had his confirmation hearing this week for the position and is widely expected to be confirmed.
“The hope is that once the secretary comes on board, there will be several briefings with regard to options of things that he has discretion on,” Peterson said. “And then ultimately, we will get feedback on that. And that's when those announcements will be made.”
Interested in more news on farm programs, trade and rural issues? Sign up for a four-week free trial to Agri-Pulse. You’ll receive our content - absolutely free - during the trial period.
He said the new administration did not want to wait until the CRP signup period ends Feb. 12 before extending the deadline.
“They didn't want to get to the very end of this general CRP signup and then go to extend it, they wanted to acknowledge that producers are engaged right now with FSA,” Peterson said. “And so they wanted to get the notice out sooner rather than later.”
The program "provides annual rental payments for 10 to 15 years for land devoted to conservation purposes, as well as other types of payments," USDA said.
For more news, go to www.Agri-Pulse.com.