By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

The amount of Kansas farmland in the popular Conservation Reserve Program continues to slip, but there's still plenty of interest.

Only 336,773 acres of land -- out of 404,392 acres offered -- were accepted during the latest enrollment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On the flip side, however, 531,925 acres will go out of the program at the end of September, when the current federal fiscal year expires.

"Our acceptance rate was down quite a bit," said Matt Smith, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks' farm bill liaison.

He's not sure why yet, but noticed that other Plains states faced a similar decline in enrollment.

With the latest enrollment, Kansas landowners will have more than 2.5 million acres in the program -- down an extra 200,000 acres that will expire at the end of September.

"We're starting to slip a little bit," Smith said.

Despite that, he said interest in the program nationwide remains high, even though crop prices are at historic highs.

Smith and others have voiced concern that farmers might avoid participation in CRP because of the higher crop prices.

Although details of where the land going into the program is just now trickling out, CRP specialist Rod Winkler said it's in the traditional counties. Winkler is located at the state office of the Farm Service Agency in Manhattan.

The counties where the greatest amount of land was accepted are the ones that have traditionally favored the program and mostly are located in the southwest part of the state.

He pointed to Hamilton, Morton, Kiowa and Clark counties as continuing strongholds. He said Ness County continues to harbor a lot of CRP acres as well.