Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced new results of the recent opportunity given to Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants to re-enroll or extend their contracts, which are set to expire between 2007 and 2010.

An estimated 23.9 million acres out of 28 million acres of eligible CRP contracts are expected to be re-enrolled. An estimated 4.1 million acres in CRP contracts will exit CRP between 2007 and 2010. Of the 4.1 million acres, approximately 1.4 million acres are located in major corn producing states.

"The percentage of landowners choosing to remain in CRP is consistent with what we have seen in the past, despite speculation that re-enrollment would drop significantly due to high corn prices," said Johanns. "We are closely monitoring interest in CRP re-enrollment, planting projections and demand for commodities to determine the most appropriate future actions in administering the Conservation Reserve Program," Johanns said.

The 4.1 million-acre estimate includes all general sign-up expiring contracts that were not extended or re-enrolled under last year's offer. It does not include acres under expiring continuous sign-up contracts, which will be eligible to be re-enrolled during the final contract year.

Last year, USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) contacted more than 317,000 CRP participants with these USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) contracts to determine their interest in continuing in CRP. FSA, which implements CRP on behalf of CCC, divided the group into 2007 expirations and 2008-2010 expirations. The 2007 expirations included 15.7 million eligible acres out of 16 million total expiring acres. The 2008-2010 expirations included 12.1 million eligible acres out of 12.5 total expiring acres.

Last spring, FSA asked CRP participants with CCC contracts set to expire in 2007 to confirm their interest in re-enrolling or extending by paying a compliance fee. A recent review of the data shows CRP participants have paid the fee on 89 percent of the acreage, or 13.9 million acres of the 15.7 million acres set to expire in 2007.

Of the 13.9 million acres, landowners decided to extend or re-enroll 13.1 million acres in CRP contracts so far. Before approving re-enrolled or extended contracts, FSA must ensure that the required cover is maintained and that other contract provisions are met. In addition, participants must demonstrate show that they meet eligibility requirements for the new enrollment period. In the case of re-enrollments, updated rental rates will apply.

Last summer, CRP participants with CCC contracts expiring in 2008 through 2010 were asked to express their interest in re-enrolling or extending. To date, these contract holders have paid the compliance fee covering 83 percent of the acreage, or 10.1 million acres of the 12.1 million acres set to expire.

Tables showing state and county acreage for which the fee has been paid for 2008- through 2010-expiring contracts are available at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov. Updated tables based on the latest fee payment data for 2007-expiring contracts are also available at the same site. Acres with compliance fee payments do not represent final approval to stay in the program. Final figures of producers who sign contracts may vary.

FSA has estimated a revised schedule of contract expirations, based on compliance fee payments and data on contracts accepted for re-enrollment and extension. It can be found in the Monthly Summaries (page 16 of the Jan. 2007 Monthly Summary) posted on the "CRP Statistics" Web page at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

Also included in the summaries is a state table (page 15 of the Jan. 2007 Monthly Summary) showing acres of 2007-expiring contracts that have been approved for re-enrollment or extension and recorded in the CRP contract database. FSA will update the estimates as CRP participants make their final decisions known.

USDA does not plan to conduct a general sign-up for Fiscal Year 2007 or 2008. However, continuous sign-up of high-priority buffers, wetlands and other initiatives, as well as Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, will continue. USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to consider these opportunities.

CRP is America's largest private-lands conservation program, with more than 36 million acres enrolled. Under CRP, farmers and ranchers plant grasses and trees in crop fields and along streams. The plantings stop soil and nutrients from washing into regional waterways and contaminating the air. They also provide habitat for wildlife.

Over its 20-year history, CRP has amassed a wealth of benefits for the United States at an average cost of less than $49.00 per acre annually. Through Jan. 2007, CRP has restored two million acres of wetlands and two million acres of buffers. CRP effectively reduces soil erosion across the United States by 454 million tons each year.