CRP land falls to 27 million acres

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Official data for the amount of land that came out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) at the end of September is now available.

USDA had hoped to sign up more land into the program following the end of the general signup under the continuous signup – but very little land was added. As of the beginning of October, 27 million acres were enrolled in the CRP, 2.5 million fewer than were enrolled in September.

The expiration of the CRP contracts will boost the amount of land available for 2013 crops. A significant number of acres came out of the program in the Northern Plains states, specifically North Dakota and Montana. These two states account for 42 percent of the total land leaving the program. The amount of land in the CRP in North Dakota declined by 582,000 acres and acreage in the program in Montana is down 488,000. CRP acreage in South Dakota fell by 130,000 acres this year. The location of these acres suggests at least the potential for more spring wheat acres in 2013.

But there is also land coming out of the CRP in the Corn Belt states. The amount of land that exited the CRP in Minnesota fell by 154,000 acres and 153,000 acres came out of CRP in Missouri.

Nearly 100,000 acres in Iowa can come back into production next year. There were also some significant acreage changes in the Plains states with CRP enrollment in Kansas down 148,000 acres and acreage in Colorado down 95,000. These changes suggest at least the possibility for more wheat, soybeans, sorghum and corn in 2013.

Change in CRP acres from fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2013

Thousand acres


Current Enrollment

Chances in Acres

Contracts That Expire in 2013

Total U.S.




North Dakota




















South Dakota
























All Others




If Congress passes a new farm bill, a reduction in the cap on the CRP is almost certain to be included. Both the House and Senate versions called for a reduction to 25 million acres by 2017. With acreage already down to 27 million acres and contracts covering 3.3 million acres set to expire next September, getting under the new cap will not be difficult.

There is a real chance that USDA will not hold a general signup for the CRP in 2013 and acreage could drop to around 24 million acres by this time next year. If crop prices stay high, most of the land coming out of CRP will return to production.

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