Majority of Conservation Reserve Program land in local counties

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

ccalloway@pntonline.com

More than three-quarters of the land in New Mexico accepted into the Conservation Reserve Program this year is in Curry, Roosevelt and Quay counties.

The program, which pays agricultural producers to turn environmentally sensitive crop land into conservation areas, is expected to pump more than $552,000 annually into the three counties over the length of these 10- to 15-year contracts, according to a Farm Service Agency official.

The state’s FSA received nearly 280 offers on more than 61,000 acres of land during the general sign-up period for the program, but only 19,000 acres were approved, according to an FSA press release issued Tuesday.

Of the approved acres, more than 15,000 were in Curry, Roosevelt and Quay counties, according to FSA’s Andrew Ortiz. Landowners are paid between $30 to $40 per acre per year.

“It’s a good rule of thumb to say 25 percent of the farms in the county (Roosevelt and Curry) are CRP,” Ortiz said. “So of all the CRP in the state, I would say 80 percent of the payments go to those three counties.”

In 2012, CRP helped to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous losses from farm fields by 605 million pounds and 121 million pounds respectively, according to the press release.

A breakdown of acres accepted into the Conservation Reserve Program this year:

Curry County

  • Acres signed up: 3,315.
  • Estimated amount of money to be generated: $116,000.

Quay County

  • Acres signed up: 8,702.
  • Estimated amount of money to be generated: $304,000.

Roosevelt County

  • Acres signed up: 3,780.
  • Estimated amount of money to be generated: $132,000.

Source: Department of Agriculture

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