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FSA to issue $1.67 billion in CRP annual rental payments

WILLMAR -- During the month of October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency will issue $1.67 billion in annual rental payments for 31.3 million acres of farmland enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.

Included in the 31.3 million acres are 4.6 million acres of high-priority conservation practices that were enrolled under the continuous sign-up provisions of the program. Filter strips, riparian buffers and wetland restorations are examples of high-priority conservation practices that can be automatically enrolled without having to wait for an announced general sign-up period.

Minnesota Farm Service Agency offices will issue nearly $108 million in annual rental payments for the state's 62,165 Conservation Reserve Program contracts.

In terms of total acres enrolled, Minnesota ranks sixth in the nation with 1,644,321 acres. Texas leads all states with 3,304,235 acres. Other leading states include: Montana -- 3,078,143; Kansas -- 2,784,851; North Dakota -- 2,719,425; Colorado -- 2,021,760; and Iowa -- 1,638,506 acres.

Locally, the Conservation Reserve Program would have to be considered the premier voluntary conservation program. Within an eight-county local area, there are 207,425 acres enrolled, generating $18.1 million in annual rental payments.

Kandiyohi County has the most acres enrolled locally with 39,864 acres. The number of acres enrolled in other local counties include: Pope -- 37,513; Swift -- 34,391; Stearns -- 28,139; Yellow Medicine -- 21,225; Meeker -- 17,234; Chippewa -- 15,185; and Renville -- 13,871 acres.

The annual rental rate of land enrolled can vary greatly within a county. Likewise, rental rates will vary between counties, reflecting the wide range of cash rents within our local area.

The county average per acre rental rate of land enrolled locally is: Renville -- $123.33; Chippewa -- $113.17; Kandiyohi -- $98.03; Yellow Medicine -- $92.86; Swift -- $86.81; Meeker -- $87.33; Stearns -- $69.67; and Pope -- $63.60.

Under the Conservation Reserve Program, landowners or farm operators voluntarily retire environmentally sensitive farmland for a period of 10 to 15 years. In return, Farm Service Agency provides participants with an annual rental payment.

USDA lowers production projections for corn, soybeans

In what came as a surprise to many, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered substantially its projected size of the nation's corn and soybean crop. The grain trade, expecting a more modest reduction by USDA, responded by driving corn and soybean futures prices up their daily limit on the day of the announcement.

Based on crop conditions as of Oct. 1, USDA is now forecasting that corn production in the U.S. will total 12.7 billion bushels, down 4 percent from the September report, and down 3 percent from last year's record high production of 13.1 billion bushels.

A national average corn yield of 155.8 bushels per acre is expected, down 6.7 bushels from one month ago, and 8.9 bushels below last year's record of 164.7 bushels per acre.

In terms of soybeans, USDA is still forecasting that soybean production in the U.S. will reach a new record high of 3.41 billion bushels. However, that projection is down 2 percent from last month's report, and up only 1 percent from last year.

Based on crop conditions as of Oct. 1, USDA is forecasting a record high national average soybean yield of 44.4 bushels per acre, down 0.3 bushel from the previous month.

Corn, soybean and sugar beet production to reach record highs in Minn.

In the October crop production report, USDA increased Minnesota's corn production forecast, but lowered slightly the soybean estimate. However, USDA's latest projections indicate that Minnesota farmers will harvest record-breaking crops of corn, soybeans and sugar beets.

Based on crop conditions as of Oct. 1, USDA estimated that Minnesota corn production would total 1.26 billion bushels, up from the 1.24 billion bushels forecast one month ago.

Average corn yields in Minnesota are also expected to reach a record high of 175 bushels per acre, surpassing ever so slightly last year's record of 174 bushels per acre.

Minnesota soybean production is expected to reach a record high of 329 million bushels, down from last month's forecast of 341 million bushels, but still up 16 percent from last year.

Based on crop conditions as of Oct. 1, Minnesota soybean yields are expected to average 45 bushels per acre, down one bushel from the previous month, but up 5 bushels from 2009.

Minnesota sugar beet production is forecast to total 12.1 million tons, up 1 percent from USDA's September forecast, and 13 percent above 2009. Sugar beet yields are expected to average 29 tons per acre, up 5.3 tons from last year's average yield.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.