Early indications are the majority will stick with a sure thing.
Preliminary data show that of the 16 million acres scheduled to come out of the CRP in 2007, around 13 million acres will stay with the program through re-enrollment or contract extensions. The roughly 81% retention rate that USDA officials are expecting next year would be about average during re-enrollment periods, but is unexpected given current prices for wheat and corn.
A USDA study shows that one factor for the high retention rate could be that as much as one-seventh of the 37million CRP acres is not suitable for planting corn. A lack of resources and money that make it possible to efficiently turn idle acres into tillable land could be another factor.
The CRP program pays farmers nearly 2 billion dollars a year to keep environmentally sensitive land out of production. According to one USDA official, many farmers with contracts that expire in 2007 have "yet to sign on the dotted line," and still may decide to grow crops.