Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA will distribute approximately $1.7 billion in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) rental payments to participants across the country in fiscal year 2010.

"I encourage interested producers to consider enrolling their land through continuous sign-up opportunities," Vilsack said.

Producers holding about 758,000 contracts on 424,000 farms will receive an average of $51.52 per acre. The number of contracts is higher than the number of farms because producers may have multiple contracts on a single farm. The payments allow producers to earn an average of $4,104 per farm enrolled in the program.

Included in the totals are 391,000 contracts, approximately 4.4 million acres, for CRP's continuous sign-up and 369,000 contracts, approximately 29.4 million acres, for general sign-up. Under continuous sign-up, producers may enroll high priority conservation practices such as filter strips, riparian buffers and wetland restorations at any time.

Currently, enrollment stands at approximately 31 million acres, making CRP the largest public-private partnership for conservation and wildlife habitat in the United States. This voluntary program helps agricultural producers safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Producers enroll in CRP and plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve water quality, control soil erosion and enhance habitats for waterfowl and wildlife. In return, USDA provides producers with annual rental payments. CRP contract duration is from 10 to 15 years.

USDA issues other CRP payments throughout the year. These payments include a 50 percent expense reimbursement for establishing and managing cover as well as incentive payments for enrolling eligible high priority conservation practices.

The table, located at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/apportstate.pdf, lists acreage enrollments by state, number of contracts, number of farms, acres enrolled and CRP projected rental payments for fiscal year 2010.

For more information on CRP, producers should contact their local FSA office or visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov.