Farmer’s Interest in CRP on the Rise

Christopher Doering reported in Sunday’s Des Moines Register that, “A record number of farmers and ranchers want to participate in the government’s popular conservation program, but many are being turned away because the U.S. Department of Agriculture simply can’t accept any more land by law, Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

“The Conservation Reserve, created in 1985, pays landowners an annual rent to idle environmentally fragile land for 10 years or more. Farmers are paid for establishing long-term vegetative species, such as approved grasses or trees to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat.  ‘There is a lot of interest in this program that is untapped simply because we have a cap,’ Vilsack said Wednesday in an interview.

“For many years, enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was 30 million to 36 million acres, but Congress lowered that total in the 2014 farm bill to 24 million acres.”

The Register article explained that, “The reserve program will be ‘an important part of the forthcoming discussions over the next farm bill,’ said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, in part because of high demand for the program from producers facing low prices and a slumping farm economy

“Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, added that increasing the number of acres allowed in the CRP ‘will certainly be looked at’ during the next farm bill. ‘When you’re putting together a new farm bill, everything is on the table,’ he said.

Grassley and Ernst are members of the Senate Agriculture Committee in charge of writing the farm bill.”

Currently, neither of the Senators from Illinois are on the Ag Committee.

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