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October 03, 2003   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
October 03, 2003

WASHINGTON -- USDA began issuing $1.6 billion in annual Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) payments to producers this week, including nearly 7,500 farms in Alabama.

"These timely CRP payments reflect the Bush Administration's continued commitment to assisting agricultural producers with their stewardship of soil, water and air," said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman.

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.

In Alabama, approximately 481,930 acres are enrolled in the CRP with rental payments estimated at $21,680, 324. There are about 7,499 Alabama farms in plan, with a total of 9,935 CRP contracts.

The announcement by USDA 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, 2003. Rental payments under this newly enrolled acreage will be issued in October 2004.

CRP is the nation's premier program for protecting fragile natural resources and enhancing the environment. Under CRP, producers voluntarily retire environmentally sensitive cropland for 10 to 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.

For more information on CRP, producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or visit FSA's Web site at http://www.fsa.usda.gov

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