Conservation program payments total $1.6 billion

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WASHINGTON – The USDA started issuing $1.6 billion in annual Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) payments to producers Oct. 2.

Producers holding 619,493 contracts on 373,033 farms will receive an average of $4,354 per farm or $47.62 per acre. The number of contracts is higher than the number of farms because producers may have multiple contracts on a single farm.

These are annual rental payments earned for fiscal year 2003.

The announcement does not include payments for 2 million acres enrolled under the most recent CRP general sign-up 26, which was held from May 5 to June 13.

Rental payments under this newly enrolled acreage will be issued in October 2004.

The program. Under CRP, producers voluntarily retire environmentally sensitive cropland for 10-15 years.

Land to be enrolled must either be highly erodible, contribute to a serious water quality problem, provide important wildlife habitat or provide substantial environmental benefits if devoted to certain specific conservation uses.

Other CRP payments, including reimbursement of 50 percent of expenses for establishing cover and incentive payments for enrolling eligible conservation practices, are made throughout the year.

In fiscal year 2003, these payments are anticipated to be $110 million for cover cost reimbursements and $110 million for incentive payments.

In the neighborhood. As of September and October rental payments, Ohio has 300,596 acres enrolled and 21,251 contracts. Pennsylvania has 132,879 acres enrolled and 6,115 contracts, and West Virginia has 1,660 acres enrolled and 83 contracts.

For more information visit www.fsa.usda.gov or call your local Farm Service Agency office.

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