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The federal government is offering higher one-time signing bonuses to farmers who agree to idle some of their farm land instead of planting crops.
The signing bonuses are part of the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which is aimed at preventing soil erosion and loss of wildlife habitat.
But farmers have been pulling their land out of the program because for the past few years they’ve been able to earn more money planting products such as soybeans and corn and selling those crops to China.
Virgil Schmitt, field agronomist at Iowa State University, says since 2007 at least 15 percent of the land in the CRP has been lost to row crops, but the new government incentives are enticing farmers back into the program.