Minnesota's Farm Service Agency director said she's pleased with participation in recent Conservation Reserve Program signup.
Contracts expire this fall on about 300,000 acres of Minnesota farm land now enrolled in the conservation program. USDA just approved new contracts for 100,000 acres.
FSA Director Linda Hennen said with high crop prices, there was concern landowners would not sign up for the conservation program. But she said participation was better than expected.
"We have a fair number of absentee landlords — people that have inherited the land or owned it for a long time," Hennen said. "They have no interest in farming it or finding someone to farm it. So luckily they are re-enrolling that land back into CRP."
Hennen said some farmers also realize it's not economically feasible to farm marginal land, so they're keeping it in the conservation program.
Still, it's likely thousands of acres will return to crop production when contracts expire this fall.
Hennen said she doesn't expect another CRP signup until after Congress passes a new farm bill. Congress may reduce the amount of land that can be set aside in the conservation program.
According to USDA, Minnesota currently has a total of 1.5 million acres enrolled in CRP.