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U. S. farmers to get bonus to open CRP land

Farmers and ranchers will be paid US$3 per acre if they open up land they’ve enrolled in the Conservation Reserve program (CRP) to public activities, including hunting and fishing, the U. S. Agriculture Department said Oct. 3.

The goal of the initiative is to double public access on CRP land to seven million acres by 2013. Currently 3.5 million acres are enrolled in the program.

The incentive will be limited to CRP participants in the 21 states that already have public access programs. It also will be open to farmers and ranchers with new or existing reserve contracts.

Overall, some 34.7 million acres are enrolled in the CRP, created in 1985, which pays landowners an annual rent to idle fragile land for 10 years or more. The 2008 farm law set a 32-million-acre ceiling for the reserve through 2012.

Land is gradually coming out of the CRP. Contracts for a total of 9.3 million acres will expire by fall 2010.

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